Menkinde: a place to be someone

There’s just one rule for Menkinde, the men’s group that operates out of the Dartmouth Community Cafe. And with such a straightforward way to take part, it has inspired cookery, film nights, two overnight bushcraft excursions and plenty more, with a whole host of events to come.

Relaxed and flexible

The group, which has a core of 10 people, is a relaxed and flexible environment that responds to suggestions of things to do together.

“You can just turn up. You don’t have to sign up to attend a certain number of sessions or visits – you just come out as and when you want,” says Graham Webb, who kick-started the get-togethers, and has found others in the group taking on more of the hosting roles.

“We try to make it as welcoming and as laid-back as possible,” says Graham.

The ethos is that people can do whatever they like. They can sit on their phone quietly in the corner; they can join in a discussion or they can take part in other ways. They’ve made food and drinks together; they’ve interacted and they’ve chilled out, relaxed and enjoyed other people’s company. And the one rule: no alcohol.

Everybody laughs

“When the World Cup was on, some people felt uncomfortable watching it in a large crowd, and they didn’t want to sit at home watching it. So this was a nice, neutral place where they could enjoy it with their friends and have a laugh. Everybody laughs, and that’s always a good medicine for anything,” says Graham. “People just feel comfortable and safe.”

Graham shares what his late wife would say: “When people come to the cafe, they’re allowed to be someone.” It’s a strong message, with an almost tangible sense of, well, wellness.

Sharing, discussing, laughing

Another pastime Graham shared with his wife Jayne, who was an integral part of the community support in Dartmouth and Townstal, was re-watching favourite films from their teens. It’s something Menkinde has taken up. “We’ve transferred that to this club, to Menkinde,” chuckles Graham. “We’ve got a list of films that we’re working through.” It all points to sharing, discussing, laughing.

Because of the relaxed nature of the club, if somebody has issues, they might come up during conversation. They don’t make a point of ‘issues’. Companionship is a big part of the group’s success. And they are coming up with new ideas of things to do: mackerel fishing, lawn bowls and mountain biking are on the list. They’re the kinds of things you want to do in company.

One of the events the group has taken part in is ManCamp. So far, there have been two, and the men have enjoyed the bonding benefits of being in nature and learning bushcraft skills while camping at the Dart Valley Bushcraft School. It sounds like mindfulness on steroids.


“One of the best things that I enjoyed was the tracking side of things,” says Graham. “Not tracking to catch, but tracking to see what’s going on around you. We walked half a mile in two-and-a-half hours, just by being so close to nature. Before that, we sat for 10 minutes, dead quiet, just listening to what was around us.”

It might only be a year old, but the men’s group feels like it’s got roots, says Graham. Roots and shoots.

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