A South London resident who started walking to improve his mental health is now organizing walks for dozens of men who need to talk to someone.
Scott Johnson, 34, a community sports coach from Bermondsey, began walking to manage his own mental well-being after years “in and out of the court system” with access issues for children.
âFor the first few years, I just bottled it, like, ‘I’m a man. I have no emotions, “but it really touched me, so I admitted I needed support,” Scott told My London. .
Scott received counseling sessions via the NHS, but in September 2020 he started sharing his walks on social media, where he quickly attracted other men with mental health issues who wanted to join him.
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âI wanted to find a way to maintain my mental well-being and I’m not a gym enthusiast or anything, so walking was key for me,â he explained.
The marches started in Southwark and many of the main organizers are from Bermondsey and Rotherhithe, but Scott has since spread to Greenwich and Croydon.
âThe turnout has been really good,â he said. “We hope to double the numbers.”
Scott told My London that he would spend six to eight weeks in a new location leading walks himself before handing over the responsibility of responsible for walking to a local.
âIt got a lot bigger than I could imagine,â Scott said, adding that the walkers’ ages ranged from men in their twenties to a 79-year-old man.
Southwark’s original group has grown to the point that the group runs two walks a week – and 50 men are in the club’s WhatsApp group.
âWe have a wide range of people at the club,â Scott said. “We have a doctor, we have an opera singer, we have people who work in offices.”
The conversations the group has on the walks are “the same conversations you would have with a group of friends,” Scott told My London.
“But what I like about the ambience in the center is you can be honest about how you feel, âhe added.
“You don’t have to hide behind a cloud of masculinity and you are with a bunch of guys who are going to support it.”
Scott has ambitions to expand the group beyond south London and hopes the Proper Blokes Club will one day operate in every borough, even when the lockdown is lifted.
To do this, he said, the club will need public funds to organize daytime walks “for the hundreds of guys who have been locked out.”
He added: âThere is always a need for men to speak up and I feel like I’m having a real impact.
âWe wouldn’t socialize under normal circumstances because we’re all so different.
“It’s amazing, but it shows that even though you come from all walks of life, you can all get along if you give it the chance.”
The Proper Blokes Club meets Mondays at Cutty Sark at 7 p.m., Tuesdays at St Mary’s Beddington Park Church at 6.30 p.m., Thursdays and Sundays at HMS Belfast at 6 p.m.