I started an unincorporated organisation called Equal Start in 2018 after an 8-year period of observing the injustice of our mainstream media and public institutions treatment of marginalised men and (ethnic minority) women regress within the UK.
Key incidences that influenced me to set up Equal Start were the McPherson, MBRRACE, Darren Spooner and Casey reports and the Mark Duggan, Dalian Atkinson and Sarah Everard killings. Government policy around social housing construction and the lack of a clear and structured pathway for ethnic minorities to gain high level careers within public service in addition to the lack of opportunity to receive public funding for social justice initiatives.
In 2016 I had a traumatic experience of the Family court service and Child services which was also a major contributory factor in my campaign for change.
Equal Start currently represents 7622 stake holders, that we engage with via face-to-face meetings and social media. Our purpose is to educate raise awareness and eliminate injustice at all levels of society.
After 3 years of activism to increase our reach and amplify our message, we have worked in tandem with Split the difference, Cornerstone Alliance, Daddies Voices and the Dedicated to Change Project.
1) What factors drive lower and falling, male life expectancy and what action would have the biggest impact on addressing this?
In today’s modern society there are key factors that need addressing when it comes to men’s Public Health. Firstly, UK culture needs to change in expectation of responsibility that men have to face. We are still expected to contribute more work hours to provide for the exchequer, effectively making us time poor. This makes us less likely to take care of our health and wellbeing; e.g visiting our local dentist and GP.
Thus, early intervention in life threatening health situations, diminish in adulthood. There are fewer research and national screening programs compared to those funded for women. Ian Banks and Peter Baker (2013) recognised this in their study where they illustrated how the cultural labour market barrier prevented men using primary care services.
I personally experienced this in 2017, whilst suffering with a benign pituitary tumour that caused loss of physical strength and libido and without medical attention, would’ve eventually led to blindness. During this time, my temporary contract manager at South Bank University expected me to work full hours (40 hours p/w). When I informed them that I wouldn’t be working until the end of the contract, they asked me, why? Despite the fact that I had previously informed them of my current medical situation. The European Commission report Access to Health Care supports my personal experience of male disposability.
Family and relationship breakdown are amplified by the Children Act created in 1989 and the Domestic Abuse Bill of 2021 (only included Parental Alienation in the statutory guidance). This has effectively alienated fathers from their children in the event of relationship failure.
The cultural onus for men to leave the family home, is part of a warped social construct perpetuated by Police and mainstream media. This leads to greater isolation for men as our support networks (based on my experience) are built around either watching sports or a hedonistic lifestyle of drinking and self-sabotage, once in crisis.
There are less free access support services and less welfare state support. Although, we must consider this is partly caused by most single parent households being headed by mothers. As men, have less of a safety net to cushion our fall. Therefore, we are entitled to less financial help and child support. Conversely, this increases the economic burden on men; having to support multiple households on a limited income.
This is exacerbated by the current cost of living crisis, leading to a decrease in self-care and putting us at a greater risk of homelessness, suicide and death from critical illness. Currently, the responsibilities and privileges are out of balance in relation to what is needed to deal with modern life in the UK.
2) What is known about men having a higher risk of cancer and how can this be reduced. a) What action is needed to improve early detection of cancers specific to men, for example around awareness of symptoms, issues with screening and encouraging men to come forward? b) With nearly half a million men with or after prostate cancer, how well does aftercare support ongoing symptoms of male specific cancers and how could this be improved?
a) National education programmes and screening services around symptoms to reduce social stigma, this would involve more advertisements of health community services that reassure and destigmatize the concerns and fears of men. Creating an umbrella network of affiliate partners that help the NHS where they struggle to fulfil the needs of male patients around critical illness.
b) Community health centres should be set up to reduce GP waiting times and relieve pressure on hospital outpatient waiting lists. Improved non-evasive test kits that can be used at home for the most common cancers amongst men, i.e. PSA tests for prostate cancer. Increased visibility and use of wearable tech to monitor vital health statistics that prevent death. After-care support needs to be offered cohesively between the NHS and affiliate partner organisations. We have an army of charities yet the action around men’s support and after-care is piecemeal at best. Once the physical symptoms have been treated, our current culture suggests that remission removes the need for ongoing care, without providing the emotional support or expertise support in how to do so.
c) What is driving rates of suicide amongst men and how could this be addressed?
Economic decline, family breakdown, reduced leisure time and increased societal pressures around productivity. A lack of practical support around mental wellbeing at work and socially.
This could be addressed with more paternity leave and well-being leave. Construct more social housing and counselling should be provided by employers when dealing with issues around emotional trauma, workplace mental abuse and coercion. Employment law needs to be tightened around these issues. For instance, I had a lucrative role at JJL Meta earlier this year and I was coerced out of my maintenance tech role during my probation despite being asked not to leave when I could have returned to my previous role in the same building with one of their competitors.
Despite completing the most reactive jobs of all electricians across all of the London sites. I also had the best work attendance and 2nd best punctuality record. Although HR invited me back under appeal and being encouraged to return by a fellow electrician. I walked away from returning because of the tactical way my line manager and the facilities manager tried to manage me out of the process. This is a subliminal factor of employment that all adult men will have to face in working life. Sometimes warranted, but, a lot of times in my experience it is not.
All these factors lead to mental anguish and anxiety amongst men where injustice where coercive control is used to neuter and pacify assertive men. Where workplace misandry can affect reputations and due to the political climate of gyno centrism. Men are more vulnerable than ever against unfounded reputational damage and coercive control on a whim, without the burden of proof.
Employee and council backed support groups need to help with the root causes of mental health issues in such occurrences. As this affects morale and causes family financial distress, that can lead to poverty, homelessness divorce and estrangement. The ones that are current available, deal with the symptoms only.
Child Services and Family Law are contributory factors that also lead to male disposability, such organisations are also in need of reform. Representatives currently operate under qualified immunity that regularly leads to public malfeasance. Leaving men disadvantaged under the current political climate when it comes to residency and family contact of non-resident Fathers.
False allegations such as domestic abuse, rape, sexual assault and coercive control are now common occurrences that go without reprimand, despite our great democracy having legislation to protect men from such allegations under these circumstances. The custodians that are meant to ensure that the law is applied rigorously are failing to do so because of the political climate and their apathy. By overlooking such atrocities, the fabric of our social harmony is under constant strain because of such travesties. This creates a breeding ground for misogyny and the rise of manosphere figures like Andrew Tate.
The path to disarming resentment, is to provide more male representation within Child Services, Primary Education, Probation Service, Domestic abuse/Victims commission Social Work England, Local councils, as well as amongst the regulators that oversee these organisations in the complaints process; Local and PSHO Ombudsman. There should also be a restructuring of work practices and workforce constitution within these organisations.
Currently, it is former workers overseeing current workers and self-regulation institutionally leads to bias decision making. Psychometric testing should be provided to all staff within these organisations to weed out prejudice and unconscious bias towards ethnic groups and reduce discrimination, but, not gender discrimination. Without these checks and balances, more Lucy Letby’s and Suzi Smith (a rogue Social Worker who lied about Johnathan Coupland molesting his daughter in 2013) will be able to operate without reprimand under the banner of bullying.
This has been a set up as a get out of jail free card for female perpetrators of abuse, socially and institutionally. Again, this creates a two-tiered system of justice based on prejudice and discrimination via the VAWG Strategy. Instead of case-by-case examination utilising the applicable facts and evidence.
Through my activism work with Equal Start I have discovered in an advocacy capacity, that during partner conflicts, even when men initiate police contact, that in 65% of these incidences, Police have instructed the men to leave their resident premises or have been treated as a perpetrator and not the victim. This sends out a dangerous sign to men who are frustrated by these daily injustices without recourse.
d) What factors contribute to men using health services, like general practice, less often than Women and what impact does this have on men’s health outcomes, for example from cardiovascular disease?
Currently men still work more hours as full-time employees within the private sector. This comes with more pressure and responsibility in terms of attendance and days off for personal time and creates a fear of economic security under the threat of joblessness and reduced income, leading to extreme poverty. We as a gender are statistically less likely to attend and engage with health services. There is also the factor of dignity and embarrassment around illnesses such as prostate cancer within the physical checks. My maternal Grandfather refused to have this inspection and it prevented him from getting treatment early enough to preserve his life.
e) What role do community and sports-based projects play in reaching men at high risk of isolation or poor mental health, and how can it be ensured that this support is spread equitably across the country?
This is a key factor in maintaining mental and physical wellbeing but reduced leisure time as we get older goes hand in hand with increased responsibilities and possible injury, without the insurance of financial protection, this causes many men to forgo such activities. Currently organisations such as Mankind Initiative Dad’s House, Solidarity Sports and Working with Men, provide such services. However these should be rolled out throughout every local council nationally. Supported by both public and private funds.
f) What are the challenges in delivering health equity across different population groups among men and how best can they be addressed?
Culture, religious belief and a lack of research into the desires and fears of men as a national population; contributes to the erosion of men’s physical and mental wellbeing in addition to economic demands and a reduction in public service spending, e.g, NHS support cuts for the past 16 years. This stems from a lack of real care from large corporate companies, local and national government.
We need to have a health convention that is men centric and facilitates positive affirmative action to deal with the challenges that we face as a gender within society.
Localised community groups that are led by men, for men, need to become the social norm across all local authorities throughout the UK. With the lack of central government funding, Community Interest groups and Charitable Organisations, founders should be trained on how to increase their reach in terms of acquiring funding and winning governmental contracts. This must also include political and public relations training so they can operate from a position of acuity, not ignorance or desperation.
An official post should be created for a ‘national minister for men’. Once mocked openly on ITV by a male feminist, this role should be to deal with our public health, to address the causes (not just the symptoms) that we face as a gender. A UN men action group needs to be formed and officially recognised as well as men’s health week and International Men’s Day.
Currently International Women’s Day is recognised yet the men’s one is not. A token of feminism monopolizing victimhood and gynocentric guilt over current, historical misdeeds of menfolk both at home and abroad. In essence the only way we can reduce male disposability is to provide credible, proportional amounts of educational, emotional and financial support. This also needs to go hand in hand with legislative and institutional reform to reduce the empathy gap between men and women. If this happens, we will be rebalancing our great society in a fair and responsible way that will benefit all.