Thursday, 24 January 2013

Helping Men In Anglo-Australian Survey

Helping Men is joining forces with Men's Health Services Australia to conduct an Anglo-Australian survey on the the barriers that prevent men from getting help.

We want to find out why men are generally less likely to access help and support from public services and social projects - and thanks to this partnership with our friends in Australia we'll be able to compare the barriers that men in the UK face compared with their Australian cousins.

If you're a professional working in the UK and can make time to complete our short Helping Men Get Help Survey just click this link to complete this short survey now

Professionals in Australia can also complete this survey online here

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Dudeonomics- a new science for understanding men

What do you call someone who's an expert on men? A Dudeonomist? 

Well that's what Professor Damien Ridge would like to call us!

In his forthcoming work, ‘Dudeonomics’, the professor is taking "a fun but scholarly approach to looking at men, their place in society and wellbeing" which he will present in his forthcoming lecture at the University of Westminster called - "Dudeonomicis: Inside The Minds, Hears and Bodies of Men"  

In his lecture on 27 February 2013,  Professor Ridgetake promises to 'take us on a tour inside the mind, hearts, and bodies of men’ to ask important questions about the male half of the population.

Damien has a deep interest in the health impacts of complex constructions of narrative and subjectivity that underpins all of his research. 

At the University of Westminster, he has a set up a research programme on men and wellbeing that challenges ‘toxic’ narratives of men in the media and academic literature. Research here includes, for example, research on men who meditate, men and successful ageing, HIV and later life (HALL), how caring professionals construct men, as well as designing and testing out new approaches for assisting men in distress.

Damien is currently writing his second book, tentatively entitled, ‘Dudeonomics’ Damien is also a psychotherapist in private practice, working mainly with male clientele.

Check our more details here and if you're planning on going drop us a line we may just see you there. 

Charities Join Forces To Help Men Access Relationship Support

The relationship charity Relate has launched a campaign to help more men access its support services.

The Homer-esque poster campaign – (by which we mean it reminds us of The Simpsons rather than The Iliad or The Odyssey) - will be displayed at 44 leading football and rugby clubs in the UK according to The Men’s Health Forum (MHF) who are backing the campaign.

By working on the project together the MHF and Relate are taking an important step towards men ‘taking the resources directly to them’, as Relate chief executive Ruth Sutherland puts it.

The campaign sees the launch of a new micro-website which offers a free live chat service and an online test to help men rate how well they are getting on with their partner.

The website includes some interesting statistics about men and their family relationships which include:                                                             
  • 63% of men wish they 
were getting more sex
  • 50% of men said they wished they had more time to spend with 
their family.
  • 31% of men class a sexy phone call as having an affair
  • 28% of men said if they could reduce their work hours, their relationship with their family would improve
  • 23% of men have slept in separate beds after arguing with their other half
  • 20% have bought a gift to say sorry after arguing with their other half
  • 14% of men say their self-esteem takes a knock after arguing with their other half

According to the MHF report this the new campaign men is important because men “are often more hesitant in seeking help themselves. 

What do you think are the key barriers to men getting help? Why not take our quick 10 question survey and have your say no – click here to take the Helping Men Get Help survey now

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Helping Men in ITN male suicide debate

Glen Poole from Helping Men will be taking part in a debate on Young Male Suicide this evening (Thursday 17th January 2013) on ITN Truthloader at 7pm

ITN's online channel will be asking "Why are so many men killing themselves?" and Glen will be joining a panel of experts to explore some of the underlying issues.

Ten men a day kill themselves in England and Wales and suicide is now the biggest killer of young men aged 16-34 in the UK taking the life of 930 young men every year.

Research into this subject by Samaritans, Mind, the Mental Health Foundation, Helping Men and others has found that:  

1. Young Men Lack Support 7 out of 10 suicidal young men say they have nowhere to turn for emotional support (Samaritans) 
2. Young Men Lack Effective Coping Strategies - suicidal young men are ten times more likely to take an illegal drug to relieve stress
3. Young Men Lack Male Roles - fatherless young men are twice as likely to kill themselves (BBC) and young men without male role models are 3 times more likely to be depressed (Prince's Trust) 
4. Young Men Are Victims Of Violence7 out of 10 (69%) suicidal young men have experienced violence (Samaritans) 
5. Young Men At Risk Of Offending Are Also A Suicide RiskYoung offenders are 18 times more likely to commit suicide (Royal College Of Psychiatrists)
6. Young Men Lack Family Support Suicidal young men are 8 times more likely than non-suicidal counterparts to be living alone, in care or hostels or without a family structure (Katz et al, 1999)
7. Young Men Lack EducationBoys are four times more likely to be excluded from school and excluded boys are 19 times more likely to commit suicide (Every Child A Reader Trust)
8. Young Soldiers Need More SupportYoung men leaving the armed forces at 2-3 times more likely to commit suicide. (Royal College Of Psychiatrists)
9. Young Men Need JobsMen who are unemployed are two to three times more likely to commit suicide and a rise in male unemployment is linked to a rise in male suicide. Youth employment is hight and men are nearly twice as likely to be unemployed as young women (62% to 38%)
10. Young Men Want To Get Help - services targeted at young men like CALM UK have been successful in engaging  young men and Mind found that twice as many men as women would welcome mental health support delivered in places like job centres and the workplace. 

To find out more about the ITN programme on young male suicide see the ITN Truthloader site

To read more on the subject of male suicide see some of the following links:

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Best Practice #7: Getting Older Men Dancing For Health

Tower Hamlets Clinical Commissioning Group has awarded the Green Candle Dance Company £10,000 to improve older men's wellbeing through dance. 

Older Men Moving is a new health and fitness project offering weekly dance and exercise sessions to three different men’s groups in the borough. The sessions will run for a year and participants’ health and well-being will be measured at regular intervals, to see what effect movement sessions have on men’s fitness and well-being. 

So far, two of the three groups have been identified – the Horwood Estate Men’s Group, meeting in the Bangla School in Pott Street and the Sundial Men’s Group, meeting at the Sundial Centre in Shipton Street. One more group will be selected.

Green Candle Dance Company works for and with children, young people and older adults and believes that everyone has the right to dance.

Open University Seminar On Older Men

Here's a Valentine's Day treat for you if you're interested in older men!
The Centre for Ageing and Biographical Study research group of the Open University is running a one day seminar on the studies of ageing masculinities on February 14th in London.
The event will bring together scholars from different disciplines to consider the contemporary social lives of older men. The organizers say that sociological and gerontological research concerning men’s ageing remains piecemeal and under-theorised despite recognition of the gendered nature of ageing and burgeoning recognition that older men and their needs are largely absent and less considered in academic and public rhetoric. 
In this context, this timely one-day workshop seeks to improve understanding of contemporary men’s ageing by showcasing current research in this area, to forge a multi-disciplinary network of scholars, practitioners and end users interested in men’s ageing, and to generate future research collaborations.
Thanks to Robin Hadley who's one of the speakers for bringing this to our attention - check out Robin's explorations of the experiences of childless men aged between 50 and 70 at

You can find out more about next months seminar at the following link: Studies of ageing masculinities still in their infancy
And if you can wait to find out more about older men's issues then check our the following posts: 

Best Practice #6: 10 Tips For Grouchy Old Man Friendly Services

In 2008-2010 The Mental Health Foundation undertook a service improvement project called Grouchy Old Men?

This aimed to find new ways to reach out to isolated older men, promote their mental health awareness, and reduce the risk of depression and suicide. This foundation then produced a guide that aimed to highlight some existing research and expertise on how services can best meet the needs of older men, and help reduce their risk of isolation, depression and possible suicide.

You can download the guide by clicking on the following Grouchy Old Men? link. And here are 10 Top Tips for making you service more friendly to "grouchy old men" taken from the guide: 

1. Try to ensure the physical environment of your organisation isn’t off-putting to older men. Think about how and where you advertise a service, and consider the d├ęcor, any music, and facilities such as a clearly marked male toilet. Talk to older men who use your services for their views about this.

2. A good way to involve older men in your organisation is to provide opportunities for volunteering – 25% of people over 50 are involved in formal volunteering, and it is a good way to use their skills and enable them to feel valued.

3. If necessary, think about the age and gender of staff doing the work – this is not questioning the professionalism of staff (and remember you can’t legally recruit and employ people based upon gender to do this work) but in some situations the age and gender of staff may influence how some older men engage with a service.

4. Physical activities are likely to have positive benefits on men’s mental health and well being as well. Forms of physical exercise such as tai chi, walking groups, or swimming have been popular with older men.

5. Make the most of the skills and knowledge of older men. The evidence suggests that one reason older men don’t engage in the services available to them is that it makes them feel like a burden. Giving them opportunities to volunteer or to help others will help to make them feel like an asset instead.

6. Have a strategy to promote the service in ways that will reach other men. Think about the language used in leaflets or adverts (a bit of humour can help here) but also encourage information to be spread through word of mouth via the men already using the service. Have an agreed policy about what to do if individual men stop attending the service – this may involve some additional outreach, finding out why they have stopped coming, and respecting their wishes to be left alone if they make it very clear they don’t want further contact.

7. Bear in mind that bereavement or loss, change in caring responsibilities, and the onset of physical health problems are times of potential risk for older people’s mental health. If you are in contact with an older man who has recent experience of one of these be more proactive in trying to find out how he is coping. Where appropriate, supporting older men to get back in contact with families, children and friends may be helpful.

8. Asking for help can be a big step for older men to take, so the first contact they have needs to be positive; putting them off at this stage will make it harder for them to ask again

9. Rather than talking about mental health in terms of difficulties or negative feelings it may be worth
trying to use more positive, upbeat language, or encourage them to be active in helping other people.It is sometimes said that ‘women prefer talking about feelings whereas men talk about problems’. Older men may prefer using a more practical, solution-focused approach if they choose to talk about their mental health. Humour and gentle banter may also be helpful but requires a high degree of trust in a relationship.

10. One way to reach isolated older men is to make contact with the people they encounter in day to day life, such as publicans, sub-postmasters, owners of corner shops, local supermarkets, barbers or community pharmacists. They may be an older man’s main source of interaction and conversation, and if they are given information and properly advised, could be a useful way to direct men to your service or other sources of support.

Five Ways #4: To Work With Older Men

Older Men have traditionally been less likely to access support services - as Age Concern's research on the barriers older men face revealed. Here we present five different approaches to engaging with older men.

1. Men Beyond 50 is a unique project concerned with personal growth and development in later life. Keep an eye on their website for upcoming events, at the time of writing the next workshop is on Exploring Elderhood at the Findhorn Foundation

2. Men's Sheds is a great approach to providing a social space for older men to engage with each other as well as support services. The idea started in Australia and is now growing rapidly in the UK.

3. The Older Men's Network is a development that arose of the Older Men Project that was part of Age UK's Fit as a Fiddle programme. To find out more about the network see the website of the National Older Men's Network.

4. Eccy Men's Group is a support group for older men based at the Eccleshill Mechanics Institute in Bradford. The group is run by the local United Reformed Church as is dedicated to helping men who have been through difficult life changing events and benefit enjoy support, companionship and a good laugh! They say there most well used quote… “We don’t stop playing because we grow old…We grow old because we stop playing!” Check out their blog at Eccy Men's Group

5. Finally, turning the archetype of an old man with a walking stick on its head the Shandon Shillelagh Social Club in Ireland, practice a form of non-combative martial arts using the shillelagh (a traditional walking stick). Instructor Martin Forrest teaches a programme which combines elements of tai chi and pilates, and involves the use of the shillelagh for self-defence. “It’s not about fighting,” he says “it’s about self-defence, personal safety, mobility and wellness.” To read more about this see the article - club swaps shillelagh for Shaolin to fight isolation 

Best Practice #5: Fit As A Fiddle Older Men's Project

The Older Men Project is part of Age UK's national Fit as a Fiddle programme that is designed to help older people to live more healthy active and fulfilling lives.

One strand of the programme is working with men over the age of 50 and key to the success and long term future of the programme is the role of older men who volunteer to be a Buddy.

Involving men as volunteers is a key element of many successful projects targeting men effectively and according to the Psycho-Social view of men's help-seeking behaviour, men are more likely to get help if they also have a chance to give help. 

Volunteering is also beneficial for the men involved and  65% of Fit as a Fiddle volunteers surveyed reported learning new skills and an increase in their confidence and self-esteem according to the 2011 evaluation report. 

The Buddies engage with and then support other older men to have more healthy active and fulfilling lives.

A program is to designed to cascade skills into the sector by training Men (50+) as Volunteer Health Mentors (Buddies) within various organisations who will then engage with their peers in those organisations one or more of 3 levels:  physical activity; healthy eating/healthy lifestyles and mental well being.

The men attend the Fit as a Fiddle Wellbeing Buddy training course which can be delivered locally or in the workplace.

Since 2007 Fit as a Fiddle has supported 300,000 older people across Engalnd to improve their physical activity levels.

You can see a video of the Older Men Project on YouTube here.


  • Total volunteers trained to date 213
  • Total beneficiaries to date 1,030
  • Total roadshow beneficiaries 16,045
  • Health eating beneficiaries 17.283
  • Physical activity beneficiaries 17,823
  • Mental wellbeing beneficiaries 17,823
  • Average participant increases weekly walking by 33%
  • 3 months after Fit as a Fiddle, participants physical activity levels increased by 71%

"I became a volunteer because I wanted to work more with my local community and felt that as an active and health older man I could help to encourage other men to beceom healthier."

"My family and friends say to me that what I’m doing is brilliant and I have bcome more confidnt in myself but I think I gt far more reward from the classes  than I give out."

"I’ve made a lot of new friends and I’m really grateful that I’ve been given the opportunity to be a volunteer."

"I had been feeling really low since the accident and I was becoming a real worry to my family.
I went to the classes to get me out of the house but the friendshp and support I received from the volunteer at the classes made me feel better."

"I’d never played golf before and I’ve always enjoyed walking and I’m able to keep doing this"

"Five or six years ago I was very weak and feeble, but after doing this qi gong and tai chi I feel I’m of use to the community. I thought I was on my own I know I'm not now we all do things together."                        

To read further case studies on this initiative see the Older Men Project website.

Research: Barriers That Prevent Older Men Getting Help

One of the big shifts in Helping Men Get Help in recent years has been the focus on providing targeted services for older men who have historically been less likely to access help and support than their female counterparts. 
One of the major pieces of research in this area is Working With Older Men
- a review of age concerns services by Sandy Ruxton. 

One of the many interesting aspects of this research is that it highlights a number of barriers that older men face when accessing support services, many of which are found in our list of Top Ten Barriers That Prevent Men Getting Help 

In this post we list the top barriers that prevent older men getting help drawn from the Age Concern research which touches on eight of the 10 barriers we have identified in our work. 

1. Female Dominated Services 

According to the report, "older men’s resistance to participating in Age Concern services – perceived as primarily geared at those who need ‘support’ or for those who are ‘dependent’ or ‘incapable’ – becomes readily understandable. Where services are dominated by women, both as staff and clients, the cultural and social barriers are significant."

Age Concern's research states that "traditional notions of gender emphasise the importance for men of independence, self-reliance and strength. These attitudes and beliefs exert a strong influence on men’s behaviour at all ages but particularly influence older generations."
3. Negative Attitudes About Men 

The research found that a "common perspective among staff was that men were ‘not ‘natural joiners’ of groups’. However, the evidence suggested that men are prepared to joint groups if the activities resonate with older men’s identities and appeal to their interests."

Age Concern's own research acknowledged that "the specific needs of older men are largely ignored in current service provision for older people."

"The importance of men’s relationship with employment and the workplace is central to their identity," according to Age Concern's research. "For some older men, this raises a dilemma between their views of themselves as ‘productive’ contributors to society and their present experience, in later life, of being ‘unproductive’ or ‘dependent’. The interviews undertaken for the Review suggested that this resulted in men avoiding certain behaviours which they took to be non-masculine, in particular admitting to problems, seeking assistance or displaying emotions."
Further, the research found that "some services had quite a different image problem for men, namely that they were seen as synonymous with the ‘last stop’ on the way to the grave. As Arber and Davidson* comment: ‘Efforts need to be made to make the clubs specifically aimed at older people more congenial for older men so that they do not feel they are ‘yielding up’ their individuality, or admitting some sort of ‘defeat’ by attending’.  (*Arber, S., Davidson, K. (2003) ‘Older Men: Their Social Worlds and Healthy Lifestyles’, University of Surrey, ESRC Growing Older Programme)"
The research also highlighted that "divorced and never married men are more susceptible to social isolation, poor health, risk behaviours (e.g. smoking and drinking) and material disadvantage than married older men. Many of the older men interviewed for the Review were widowers and several spoke with feeling about the emotional depths to which they had sunk and the obstacles which they had faced following the death of their spouse (or sometimes a friend or other relative). It is likely that the majority of men in such circumstances remain very isolated and hard to reach."

6. Lack Of Opportunities For Men To 'Do It Themselves'
The research found that "a focus on practical activities, such as digital photography or IT skills, was important for some older men, although most men who attended Age Concern services preferred to ‘do their own thing’; chatting with other (male) friends, playing cards, reading newspapers and drinking tea. This represents a challenge to any stereotype that men do not enjoy passing time with each other in relaxed, non-competitive ways. It may be that some older men come to accept the limitations placed upon their physical ability, and become less concerned about conforming to dominant notions of appropriate masculinity."

7. Strategic Barriers
Age Concern's research states that a "significant barrier to engaging older men in services is the nature of referral systems and policies. Several staff commented that where men were referred, whether by Social Services, GPs, or PCT staff, they were more likely to attend. However, existing referral systems did not carry out this function effectively. There was widespread lack of awareness of Age Concern services, particularly amongst GPs."

8. Difficulty identifying men as 'victims' or needing help 

Finally, the research found that "the majority of older men do not attend such activities and many of those interviewed felt that they needed to justify it to themselves and to other men. Some sought refuge in a relatively segregated ‘men’s group’ within a mixed service. Others were involved, at least initially, as volunteers (e.g. walk leaders, drivers) – as active contributors rather than passive recipients."

Monday, 7 January 2013

New 2013 Helping Men Get Help Course Date Announced

The next Helping Men Get Help course will be held in Brighton & Hove on Tuesday 13th February and you can book your place today by clicking here now.

Helping Men Get Help is our flagship course that’s been designed for professionals who want to help more men and boys access public services and social projects.

The course is designed for service providers in areas such as health promotion, parenting, education, social care, mental health, support groups, community safety and housing. The course if for anyone concerned with helping men and boys get better access to and outcomes from their existing services, or anyone interested in developing new services and projects for men and boys.

If you can't wait to come and take the course with us in February then why not call today to find out about holding the course in-house.

For more details contact Glen Poole at Helping Men on 07981 334222 today or email 

To secure your place on the February course click here now to book online today.

Friday, 4 January 2013

Best Practice #4: 10 Tips To Help White Working Class Boys Get To University

In response to the news that the Universities Minister David Willetts has called for Universities to do more to help white working-class boys access further education we though it would be valuable to highlight some best practice in this area. 

Most of the work undertaken to try and widen participation in higher education took place under the guidance of the Aim Higher Programme that formally closed in July 2011. 

The Aim Higher Programme included a number of initiatives around the country targeting working-class boys, many of which were reviewed by the Higher Education Academy in a 2011 discussion paper called Male Access and Success in Higher Education, from which the following content is taken.

While the title of this best practice guide focuses on 'white working class boys' in response to the comments of the Universities Minister, at Helping Men we very much favour initiatives in education to improve the performance of boys of all backgrounds and many (if not all) of the examples will have relevance for anyone wanting to design initiatives aimed at engaging boys, teenagers and young men in education.

10 Tips To Help White Working Class Boys Get To University 

(Abridged from the HEA discussion paper, Male Access and Success in Higher Education)

1. Take Action To Change Boys' Attitudes Towards Education

Aimhigher Sussex’s A Suitable Boy scheme was one example. Working with 30 disaffected year nine boys who were approaching their GCSEs, this scheme sought to ‘re-engage’ them with their ‘educational journeys’. This was achieved by encouraging the boys to explore role models and think about what they wanted to achieve with their lives, with attention then being turned to the role that education could play in this process.

2. Take Action To Raise Boys'  Higher Education Aspirations

This was the focus for a number of projects including Striving for Excellence, a project led by Bury College and involving 10 high schools along with the local university. This project aimed at addressing the decline in male HE applications in the local area by providing interactive workshops facilitated by a motivational speaker for 100 year 11 boys. The project also comprised a university-based event and a mentoring scheme.

3. Take Action To Improve Boys' Attainment Levels 

This was the objective of Aimhigher Greater Manchester’s Boys Writing Conference. Based at Liverpool FC and catering for 30 year nine boys from the Wirral who were underachieving in English, the event involved 
workshops led by a professional author, a poet and a sports writer.

4. Build Relationships With Boys Over Time 

This was the case with Aimhigher Derbyshire’s Boys into HE project, an initiative that worked with the same cohort over a three year period. Initially engaging the group in year eight, the scheme sought to nurture positive attitudes to education, as well as raise awareness of HE, before, in subsequent years, addressing attainment and HE aspirations. Aimhigher Lancashire and the University of Central Lancaster’s Raising Aspirations project that included a two-day residential along with an HE celebration event, equipped attendees with information about future open days and other HE-related events, as well as arranging for the provision of information on HE issues such as tuition fees

5. Carefully Target Which Boys You Engage With

Many projects adopted guidelines developed by Aimhigher which took account of academic potential (HEFCE 2007b). However, in identifying the most suitable candidates for the particular initiatives being proposed a number also consulted teachers along with the potential participants themselves. Beyond this, there was evidence of targeting reflecting specific project objectives. For instance, Blackpool Sixth Form College’s Raising the Educational Aspirations of White Male Students targeted those living in local areas of multi deprivation that had the potential to achieve five GCSEs but were not currently working at that level. Moreover, through the work of the college’s progression mentor, the project team was able to identify the barriers to achievement and progression faced by these individuals and build a scheme around their needs.

6. Don’t Limit Your Thinking To White, Working-Class Boys

Aimhigher Lancashire and the University of Central Lancaster’s Raising Aspirations project, which
worked with young male Muslims (see number 4 above) had many elements that would work equally well for non-Muslims. The University of Birmingham’s Looking Forward to Aiming High project worked in partnership with the National Black Boys Can Association, with a focus on African Caribbean boys from lower socio-economic backgrounds. Again, initiatives that aren't limited to working exclusively with black boys could learn from the work of Black Boys Can.

7. Tailor You Content and Delivery To Suit Boys 

A considerable amount of work and research was devoted to ensuring activities would be attractive to the intended beneficiaries. In many instances interventions were built around beneficiaries’ existing interests. Aimhigher Derbyshire’s dance and film project sought to engage young men through their interest in street culture, including break dancing, with the scheme utilising the local university’s performance facilities. 
In addition, many of the projects were collaborative in nature. Aimhigher Greater Manchester’s More Than a Game provided some 80 year nine boys with information and advice on career and HE opportunities related to sport by using guest speakers from Manchester City F.C. and Lancashire County Cricket Club. Another initiative that also worked with local partners, this time through visits to a motor racing circuit as well as football and rugby grounds, was Aimhigher Northamptonshire’s Man 2 Man project. An additional common feature highlighted by this particular scheme was the involvement of parents and carers. In this instance the emphasis was on engaging with fathers as well as their sons.

8. Involve and Develop Key Influencers and Role Models 

Aimhigher Leicestershire's Boys into Football initiative worked with a number of local football clubs by employing university students as coaches and role models. Elsewhere, projects worked closely with teachers. Aimhigher Nottinghamshire’s Success for Boys scheme not only offered interactive workshops designed to develop the emotional intelligence of male participants and encourage them to recognize the success that could come from learning, but also ran complementary workshops for teachers to help them develop techniques to motivate and inspire boys.

9. Involve Male Undergraduates As Role Models 

A number of successful projects involved male undergraduates as helpers, ambassadors and role models. Aimhigher South West’s Boys into Health Care event provides an example here. Targeted at 100 boys in years nine to 11, this event comprised a series of interactive workshops delivered by male healthcare practitioners and supported by male student ambassadors.

10. Embed Initiatives In Widening Participation Agendas For Sustainability 

The closure of Aimhigher in July 2011 emphasized the importance of finding ways to ensure that initiatives to increase boys' access to university are sustainable. One way to promote sustainability is to ensure such initiatives are embedded in institutional Widening Participation provision. One example of apparent success in this respect is the London Boys’ Fashion Summer School, co-ordinated by the University of the Arts and aimed at local working class boys studying art and design. 

The above 10 examples are taken directly from the Higher Education Academy 2011 discussion paper called Male Access and Success in Higher Education