A PROJECT is being launched to help men who feel isolated to break out of their shells and face any problems in their lives.

East Durham Trust is supporting a range of groups aimed at reducing social isolation among men, with funding from County Durham and Darlington PCT.

The Cree project is based on an Australian idea known as Men’s Sheds which create places where men feel comfortable to talk, seek help or simply get out of the house.

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The Trust has trained volunteers to lead groups and activities but the real focus is general discussion in an informal atmosphere.

Men’s groups will be held in Trimdon Station Community Centre, Wingate Family Centre and Shotton Community Centre.

And RT Projects, an arts based initiative in Sherburn; Seaham-based Recognise it, Resolve targeting military mental health issues; and Males Care 2 for male carers will be open to men from across east Durham.

Projects are also being planned in Blackhall and Murton.

With the closure of traditional industries and the loss of social facilities reducing contact between men, the Trust’s chief executive, Malcolm Fallow, said some are left feeling isolated and can develop mental health problems.

He said: "A lot of the scenarios that brought men together have disappeared.

"What we sometimes refer to as ‘bait cabin crack’ has reduced and if you add to this the closure of pubs and clubs and the reduction of community groups ranging from football teams to leek clubs then we have a genuine social problem."

Trimdon Station Community Centre launched its cree project last week, holding weekly drop in sessions on Thursdays, 10.30am to 12.30pm.

Derek Bradley, the centre’s development manager, said: "This area has been identified as having a relatively high proportion of male suicide.

"Many men are out of work, there are high levels of deprivation and poor health.

"Some men feel low, stuck in the house and avoid problems.

"Here we want to create an easy going environment where men can feel at ease.

"They can come in to use facilities like the computers or library and will find someone to talk to socially or to get confidential help from job skills to health advice."

For details about any of the groups call East Durham Trust on 0191-5693511 or visit the website www.eastdurhamtrust.org.uk.