Central Co-op's Men's Voices 2023 took place at Burton Albion Football Club. The day was attended by male colleagues, members, and the community to help spread the positive message of talking and supporting each other.
Sometimes men find it hard to open up, this event, with the workshops and activity on offer is helping to open up the conversation on men's mental health. Everyone is different, and there are aspects and issues that affect us all, but the underlying theme always comes back to mental health, and the event is designed to open up the conversation and help promote men talking about issues that affect them in their daily lives.
The day was kicked off by our Society President, Elaine, who spoke of her long-term support to the event. Central Co-op's CEO gave a recorded message to attendees showing her support to this important event in helping to men talk in a safe environment.
Our main speaker for the day was Mike Sinclair. Mike is a director of Sporting Spirit based in Birmingham and the West Midlands. Mike setup sporting spirit to help be a positive role model to young people in the area, and pass on the benefits of sport and fitness, which helped his upbringing, to others.
Mike spoke passionately about the work and events Sorting Spirit create, to help support young adults see a different life away from crime and gang culture, and have sport as a positive influence on their lives.
It was a pleasure having Mike speak at our event today. Central Co-op Member and Community Relations have worked with Sporting Spirit now for over 5 years, and for others to see the work they do was great.
After a wonderful speech from Mike came our first round of workshops on Men's Health and Wellbeing, Food and Eating, Male Suicide, and Work-Life balance. The workshops are led by Central co-op colleagues and members to help provoke conversation, support, listening, and learning. conversation flowed, men spoke and opened up, and listening to some of the feedback, they proved very popular and worthwhile.
Following on from the first workshop was the chance for attendees to take part in some fitness/mindfulness activity. A choice of playing football, going for a walk, enjoying some relaxing YOGA, or the chance to have a cuppa and a chat.
Knowing and talking about issues that affect us is a very important part of the day, but understanding that physical/mental activity is as important, and finding an escape to reflect or support is proven to help with positive mental health. Each of the activities gave a different way to find that release.
Our afternoon workshops followed a hearty, healthy lunch and networking time with the second Men's Health and Wellbeing, Addiction, Bereavement and Inclusion. Once again these workshops were led by Central Co-op colleagues and members with experts from Burton Mind and Burton Addiction Centre.
These workshops again were there to help, support, and answer and ask questions, seek advice and listen to some inspirational and heart-warming stories. The openness and honesty of workshop leads, and men in the rooms were amazing. Listening to feedback after the workshops was amazing to hear.
To close the day, Society Secretary Andy Seddon, who dipped in and out of all the workshops gave his closing words of what he had seen and heard. Andy gave a great overview of the workshop sessions, and his common thought was how talking to each other makes a difference, and we should all talk more, and double ask how people are doing, to really make sure.
These events, don't just happen, and many people were involved in creating such a worthwhile event to help support men's mental health, on topics that really need to be spoken about more. Thanks were given to all that supported with small gifts for recognition.
It is important to seek help if you or someone around you needs it. Below are some helplines that can support, and remember your GP is also a good place to seek help and support.
Emergency Immediate Support call 999 for the emergency services
Mind - 0300 123 3393 or www.mind.org.uk
Samaritans - 116 123 or www.samaritans.org