On the 17th November United Youth Alliance held their 5th International Mend Day event at Blackpool Football Club for young men across the Fylde Cast High schools and men’s community led groups.

What difference will it make to men in our community?

Jake Adams a Director for UYA said ‘The International Men’s Day Project supports the health and wellbeing of men in our communities. There are a multitude of intersectionality themes which we need to address and action taking forward solutions to the issues we find here on the Fylde coast.’

In 2020 Chris Whitty Chief Medical Officer called for action on ‘serious’ health problems in England’s coastal communities. Fast forward to 2023 he says the crisis is worsening! Professor Whitty’s report included average life expectancy figures for some coastal communities, such as Blackpool, which has the lowest in England.

Alongside this McDowell et al (2021) examined young men’s mundane experiences of austerity in English coastal towns, exploring the everyday experiences living in coastal towns badly affected by austerity programmes implemented in the UK since 2010. The study found ‘A rhetoric of social mobility disguises structural inequality, producing a false promise of hope or ‘cruel optimism’ about prospects. Simultaneously, young working- class men, especially those without employment, typically are constructed as a threat to (middle class) society’

Stuckedness’ also applies to geographical immobility – staying put in a place that may be depressing but was at least familiar. We want to unstick those men and alongside men improve their social mobility and opportunities.

Jake continued to explain ‘We recognise the impact of social media and influencers within our society and want to challenge the ideology of the manosphere which is a collection of websites, blogs, videos, online forums, and communities promoting masculinity, male issues and often ideas that are either misogynistic or strongly oppose feminism.’ Let’s start to make that change now as one community.

Over 200 people attended the day with school such as St Bede’s Lytham, Baines, Blackpool Sixth Form, South Shore Academy and Blackpool and the Fylde college as well as StreetLife and The Princes Trust groups attended along with over 30 stall holders and 16 workshops.

The day consisted of a series of interactive workshops from the likes of Lancashire fire and rescue, Brendan Bunting local artist, Lancashire Police, Blackpool Transport, Empowerment Blackpool Football Community Trust, Fylde Coast Cold water therapy and breathwork and Henry Iddon, photographer. The marketplace had a range of key organisations all offering support and community activities to men, from Victrex plc, to Blackpool Adolescent services, The literacy Trust to Elliot’s place and including all three football community Trusts from Blackpool Fleetwood and AFC Fylde.

The day ended with a Question Time special with key panellist:

Neil Critchley – Head Coach Blackpool FC

Mike Crowther CEO Empowerment Charity

Brendan Bunting – Artist and youth worker

Dave Scholes – Co founder of six connections

The day can be summed up by one young person’s passing comment at the end of the day this is the best day I’ve had, I know it beats being in school, but I never thought I’d enjoy myself, the workshops were ace and so were the goody bags, I definitely think we should have this every year, Its good for lads to talk.’

Teacher comments ‘This event is so special for men to attend. I have been to both women’s and men’s international days organised by UYA and I must say the men’s one feels like men need this more to support them and the stigma around being a man. All the activities we did allowed the students to think about it, speak openly and knows everything is ok.’

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