Red Ladder – Reaching Out on Male Mental Health

Leeds Community Foundation has awarded a grant of £10,000 to Red Ladder Theatre Company to help develop a new play to raise awareness of men’s mental health.

The Men’s Suicide Prevention Grant, funded by Leeds City Council, will contribute to The Parting Glass, which will tour in community venues from September.  Each performance will be followed by a Q & A session with a mental health specialist.

Red Ladder will work with mental health experts in the City and with playwright Chris O’Connor to develop The Parting Glass, expanding the themes of Chris’ The Life and Soul, a one man play whose character is Jim.  Jim does what so many do: he masks his depression with a ‘cheery and carefree persona’.  The Parting Glass brings in a female character to examine the impact a suicide has on other people.

The performance is intended to explore the culture of silence that surrounds men’s mental health and raise awareness of the high rates of suicide in men.  Men are statistically three times more likely to commit suicide than women, a rate which rises in Leeds to five times more likely.

Red Ladder Local will tour with The Parting Glass to Leeds, Barnsley and Wakefield, following by a national tour in 2020, all in non-theatre venues.

Artistic director of Red Ladder Theatre Company, Rod Dixon:

We’re thrilled to be developing a new play with funding from Leeds City Council. As we’ve seen from touring The Life And Soul nationally for four years, theatre has an important and powerful role in addressing social issues and promoting discussion – the lack of which is a major issue surrounding men’s mental health. Commissioning and touring The Parting Glass will allow us to engage with a wide variety of people in their own local environments, encouraging dialogue in an informal, entertaining and safe way and helping to break down the barriers that can prevent men from opening up about their mental health.”

Councillor Rebecca Charlwood, Leeds City Council Executive Member for Health, Wellbeing and Adults:

 “We know that men are often less likely to talk about their feelings and there is a range of issues, from social isolation and unemployment, to relationship breakdown and feelings of not being valued in their community and society. We are committed to playing our part to reduce the stigma which prevents people seeking the help and support that can make things better, and these grants are an excellent opportunity to fund innovative and targeted work which can make a difference.”

Kate Hainsworth, CEO of Leeds Community Foundation:

“We have been delighted with the creative approaches and sound knowledge of men’s health issues shown in these two rounds of applications. We know many different people and organisations in the City are keen to support suicide prevention work. This three year grant programme is a great opportunity for local organisations to bid for funding to deliver activities they know will work in their community, and we encourage other groups working in the target areas to apply to future rounds in 2020 onwards.”

More information about The Parting Glass can be found on

Photograph by Anthony Robling.

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