By Steph McNicol

MEN of Kilmore will be able to gather again for The Man Walk after the initiative was halted due to the pandemic earlier this year.

The walk was an idea organiser Phillip Collings had after watching a segment of morning television – a concept introduced in New South Wales and spread quickly across Australia.

While the walks were temporarily put on hold earlier in the year with COVID-19 restrictions, Mr Collings said the two walks that went ahead made for ‘some great conversations’.

The Man Walk provides a positive, supportive, and inclusive environment for men to walk, talk and support one another, and encourages them to speak up when they need help.

“I saw it on Sunrise and thought I’d follow it up. I approached The Man Walk community directly and set up the walk from there,” Mr Collings said.

“I set up a Facebook page, The Man Walk – Kilmore, and sort of followed on from there to all local community pages.”

Men of all ages are welcome to attend and are invited to meet each Sunday morning at 9am at Kilmore Bakery.

“Before COVID-19, in Australia, one in four men were in danger of becoming socially isolated. Restrictions have forced many more people into isolation,” Mr Collings said.

“Working from home for many has started off as being a nice change but as it goes on many people are missing the personal interactions they used to have in the tea rooms, by the water cooler, or on the workshop floor.

“The Man Walk is a relaxed atmosphere for blokes to engage in meaningful conversations, or trivial conversations as men do.

“Anybody that identifies as a man is welcome to come along. Men from all backgrounds and all walks of life, men of any age. All are welcomed and all have something to offer. There is no commitment, no cost, no membership, just turn up.”

Participant Steve Ansell said being part of the walk gave him the ‘joy of fellowship’, and it meant he could enjoy the weather.

“Like their wonderful counterparts, women, men often enjoy a greater freedom of expression when communing with those of our own gender,” Mr Ansell said.

“The Man Walk happens when men turn up at the predetermined time. Then we walk and talk. That’s it. Extremely basic and transparent organisational requirements – a time, a bloke, a path, a walk, a talk, repeat.

“If isolation is negatively impacting us, knowing about what support is available to us, can be an important key to dealing with it in the most positive way.

“Being willing to ask for a hand in my life has proven beneficial beyond what I could imagine. Sharing my own meagre skills has never left me with less of anything and if my investment of my time must be counted as a ‘cost’, then I pay it joyfully.

“That ‘payment’ has proven the best investment I have ever made, because I have people like Phillip as a friend and my own drive to be useful led me to our local Rotary Club, which always provides me with a wonderful guiding light of practical goodness.”