On Wednesday 24 March Central England Co-operative held an online Men's Voices event. The event which would usually be held in November to coincide with International Men's Day was postponed due to the Covid-19 Pandemic. During this online event we had Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester give a keynote speech, Paul Dennis, Society Retail Director who gave a session on 'Mens role in keeping women safe' and breakout sessions on Bereavement, Men's Health and Wellbeing, Life after Lockdown, and Work Life Balance.
The event was opened by our Society President Jane Avery. Jane welcomed everyone to this event and highlighted how important is was for men to come together and be able to talk about issues that affect them. Jane went on to speak from the heart about the current horrific actions that led to death of Sarah Everard, and how all of us have a part to play in keeping women safe through education and knowledge.
Our Society Vice-President Elaine dean, who has been a very supportive advocate for the Men's Voices events, introduces her friend and 'King of the North' Andy Burnham.
Our keynote speaker for the event, Andy Burnham kindly took time out of his busy schedule to join this event. Andy spoke about issues that he has seen and faced in his time as Mayor of Greater Manchester, talking about projects he has been involved in and how taking a proactive step in male mental health issues has been a priority for him. Andy spoke passionately about one project he has been involved in 'Shining a Light on Suicide'. This is an issue that is now the biggest killer of men under the age of 50 and is an issue society need to have more understanding of. Andy encouraged everyone to log onto the shining a light website and take the 30 minute free training. I will be completing this training, and i would encourage as you to do the same.
Following Andy's speech the event held two breakout sessions which discussed relevant topics. The sessions were lead by colleagues from Central England Co-operative who had experience or were passionate about them. The topics were; Bereavement led by Jim Watts and Martin Tipping, Work Life Balance led by Gary Berns and Ton Robson, Life After Lockdown led by Adrian Dunn and Brad Tuckfield, and Men's Health and Wellbeing led by Paul Reece and Scott Worth. The sessions allowed smaller groups to discuss these subjects, give advice, support or just listen. Following the breakout sessions we all came together and had a short feedback session from each group.
Our Retail Director Paul Dennis gave closing remarks on the event. Paul firstly started by saying how great it was to hear from our President and Vice-President at the start of the event, and how they set the scene. Paul then said how great it was to hear from Andy Burnham, and how he would be taking the online training from the shining a light on Suicide website. Paul then spoke about how he enjoyed the breakout sessions and one thing he was going to take away from them was to 'take some time' for himself.
Paul then spoke about the role we have as men to play in keeping women safe in Society, and following on from the horrific death of Sarah Everard he spoke to the women in his life and didn't fully realise the steps they took to try and feel safe. Knowing what he knows now, and this was also the general thoughts from people attending this event, we can and should do more to help women feel safer than they do now, with a key message that we can “Protect your daughters and educate our sons” and seeing the world from other peoples viewpoints to encourage diversity and empathy