My name’s Rob Osman and I’m the founder of an organisation called Dudes and Dogs. Dudes and Dogs is a community interest company set up with one single premise, to show every man in every corner of the world that it is not just okay to talk, it’s vitally important. We do that by getting guys out into the fresh air for a walk and talk, with a few dogs along the way. We found that by getting guys out into nature and side by side rather than sat face to face and having a discussion with eye contact, it’s allowed men to open up in a way that we haven’t seen previously. We have also had guys come on the walk that have never sought help, despite their mental struggles and difficulties, but they’ve seen the benefit of connection when they’ve gone out on a walk. As a result, we get guys from all ages groups and all walks of life coming along.
The premise of Dudes and Dogs was born out of what works for me. I spent a huge chunk of my life trying to be something I wasn’t, what I believed society wanted from me as a man and what it meant to be a man. I have since realised that all the things that I thought society wanted to see and I thought I needed to be, had nothing to do which who I actually was. It’s my emotions and my feelings where my strength is, that’s where my power lies and that is my masculinity, my version of it. It took me a long time to come to that realisation, to be comfortable in my own skin and say that out loud. I want to help others, give them a safe space to do that too and come to that realisation and ownership of whatever their own version of masculinity is.
Dog walking has been a huge part of my journey. I realised that rather than saying to my mates “let’s go to the pub”, I was saying “ let’s go for a walk”. By creating that side-by-side dynamic rather than face to face, we’ve managed to appeal to men who, up until now, haven’t sought support for their mental well-being.
Through the month of May it’s been a privilege to be partnered with the team over at PROJECT:TALK, as we had been in discussions with George and the rest of the team for quite some time. We put a group together to participate in the Mental Fitness Month challenge to travel 15,000km and we raised funds along the way for Dudes and Dogs and PROJECT:TALK. It’s been great to be involved. Throughout May we have been able to host some walks and do some talks for Bristol University which gives one more route to access support, for people in the University. It’s been great to collaborate with them in May and we are going to be forming a permanent partnership with them, going forward, and work more closely together to make sure we continue to offer maximum support to as many students as we possibly can.
We have always been aware of the stress and pressures on university students, particularly at the moment and through the pandemic and we wanted to support that. Dudes and Dogs wants to support all levels of education from primary up to secondary, through to university. We currently have primary school walks starting and we are doing some talks in secondary schools soon. Therefore, to have connected with PROJECT:TALK and be able to provide this support at the University level is a real privilege and a real honour.
That’s a bit about me, a bit about Dudes and Dogs and the partnership that we have had going through May with PROJECT:TALK. With our partnership moving forward, there will be a whole load of new stuff to come so make sure you get involved.