“We hear a lot about men but not a lot from men”

10 December, 2014

Written by: Sue Sheehan

Do the Right Thing > From the community

ManDay has been running for 16 weeks at Stockwell Park Community Centre and Monday 8 December 2014 was a celebration of achievements so far. The project has brought together men to discuss a huge range of issues, from health and wellbeing, media, emotions and promotions.

What is Manday?

“We hear a lot about men but not a lot from men,” said Lorna Campbell, former Cabinet member for Equalities and Communities at Lambeth Council. “That’s why I was very keen to see a men’s project in the borough.” But most of all, according to Royston John, chief executive of programme organiser, the National Coalition-Building Institute (NCBI), it is a support group for men to grow in whatever way they want to grow.

What are the benefits?

There were numerous testimonies – the first speaker was recommended to attend by his sister who had met Royston and thought he would be a good influence. “ManDay has changed my life,” the participant said. “It has allowed me to stop procrastinating and given me stability”.

Several of the men spoke about having found friendship, tolerance and understanding, that they hadn’t found anywhere else. “It has enriched my life, broadened my world view, and opened my heart”, said a man who had moved to London two years earlier, and is only now starting to find his place in the world.

What is NCBI?

NCBI was founded to eliminate inequality. “Men don’t get much help,” said Lambeth’s Mayor Adedamola Aminu. He added that active participation is very important – and that more men need to take a more active role in society by becoming school governors or TRA representatives, for example, and influencing their councillors so that they can be more representative.

More stories emerged – of how there is a core group of men but how they engage with young people who gather outside the community centre in the evenings, and how they have influenced the lives of men who have attended less regularly. Women, in attendance for the celebration event but normally excluded from meetings, were very supportive of the initiative and in some cases benefited from their partners’ involvement. One woman has started how own women’s group in response.

What next?

This group of men are very committed to continuing to meet regularly, and have taken up a range of positions in society, from school governor to motivational speaker, from cook to supporting older people. To continue to be able to grow themselves and the group they are looking to put together a programme in partnership with other local community groups in the area, as well as the council and other statutory bodies. Oh, and they are planning a go-kart challenge in Brockwell Park next summer. To find out more contact Royston John on ncbilondon@ncbi.org.uk or Susan Sheehan at ssheehan@lambeth.gov.uk

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