On Wednesday 16 November, Central Coop held its annual Men's Voices event. The event is held on, or around International Men's Day (19 November) to celebrate men, and talk about issues that affect men.
This year's theme was around wellbeing and mindfulness and the program and speakers complimented the theme of the day.
Our Society President and long term supporter of this event Jane Avery opened the event. Jane spoke about how it is really important that these events take place to promote the health and wellbeing of all men.
This Year's event saw two keynote speakers talk about their life and careers. First to speak was Lord Roy Kennedy, A member of the House of Lords. Roy spoke about his upbringing from a Council Estate in London and how he worked his way through politics to being made a Lord by Gordon Brown. Roy spoke of his passion for football and being a Millwall fan. Roy also told delegates of some of his roles in the House and how he is a big supporter of housing, especially the need for more social housing.
Our second keynote speaker was Charlie Ford. Charlie is Chief Executive of Volleyball England. He told us how he grew up in inner city Derby and how he got to where he is today with hard work and determination. Charlie spoke about his previous roles with UK basketball and boxing governing bodies. Charlie's talk focussed on how physical activity can help not just our physical wellbeing but our mental wellbeing too, and how if he didn't go for a run or do some physical activity during the day, he was not as productive as he could be.
In the morning we held our colleague led workshop sessions on Men's Health and Wellbeing, Suicide Prevention, Work Life Balance, Cost of Living, and Food & Eating. The sessions were led by colleagues within the business, but were designed to allow conversations to take place in a safe environment where everyone was there to support and give help, hints, tips and ideas. The sessions led by Jamie, Will, Tom, Sam, Neil and James, our difference makers.
Just after lunch we had a short presentation dedicated for Central Coop colleagues around our colleague assistance program from Connor who works for Health Assured. The business funded program that allows colleagues to talk confidentially to professional counsellors about issues that are affecting them. We felt as there was a high number of colleagues in attendance it was a good way of showcasing the platform available, with comments from non colleagues saying how good the program is.
Following our afternoon talks it was time to think about our own wellbeing and mindfulness. Three sessions were available for delegates to take part in; A Yoga and Mindfulness Session, a Cuppa and Chat, or a Walk and Talk. these sessions were designed to promote the making of time for yourself by doing an activity that can help you escape or unwind.
After our wellbeing and mindfulness sessions, we all came back together to hear from our Society Secretary Andy Seddon who gave his closing remarks on the day and also handed out thank you gifts to all the people who made the event happen.
Thanks go to the Team from Everyone Health who were on hand to help talk and give health checks to delegates and support in nutrition advice, Shazia, a member of the Royal College of Nursing who was on hand to give advice to men on the menopause, and colleagues from Burton Mind who were on hand to support during the day with help and advice.
The group leads were thanked for their help and support on the morning sessions along with flowers for Jane and Elaine, long term advocates and supporters of the event. Special thanks to Lesley Nolan who has supported me in organising this event, here time and dedication is exceptional. I was presented with some lovely craft beer by Andy for my role in the event, a lovely gesture.
To finish this blog, I want to tell you about the generosity of people attending the day. In the build up to the event we had the idea of collecting men's toiletry products to donate to local foodbanks in our region. Mens toiletries are one of the lowest donated items that foodbanks receive. It was great to see the amount of products donated, they will be gratefully used by men and boys in need this winter!
Don't forget, we all need help sometimes, so if you feel you need to talk, please reach out to someone!
Samaritans: Call 116 123 free / Mind www.mind.org.uk