Written by Joanne McDowell, Big Lottery Fund NI Director
On 27th February, Man Matters hosted Northern Ireland’s biggest ever conference on men’s issues. The ‘All Right Lads?’ conference brought together men’s groups, academics, service providers and politicians in an effort to address the serious issues that men in Northern Ireland face. I was delighted to speak on behalf of Big Lottery Fund.
Man Matters is a partnership project between Home-Start NI, Parenting NI, the Workers’ Educational Association (WEA), and the Men’s Health Forum in Ireland. We have supported the partnership through our Live and Learn Programme.
The conference was a great blend, within inputs from academics and practitioners working with the most excluded men as well as Junior Ministers Jonathan Bell and Jennifer McCann of the Office of The First Minister and Deputy First Minister.
Diarmuid Moore from Man Matters chaired the day and reflected that the conference marked the end of one phase of the Man Matters project that had involved as many men as possible in positive programmes, and the beginning of the next phase where resources will be used to address the underlying problems that men face.
Dr Ian Banks gave a very engaging input that focused all our attention on the difference that focusing on outcomes can make on men of all ages.
Professor Barry Golding from Federation University Australia focused his input on men’s ‘sheds’ and ‘shedders’ and the impact they are having in Australia. He outlined that Men’s Sheds were ‘valuising’ nor ‘problemising’ the issues that men face. Barry illustrated the practical requirements for successful Men’s Sheds, as well as their potential for change.
Throughout the workshops there was input from other practitioners and powerful stories from men who had engaged and benefitted from the Man Matter’s project, from other projects or who ran and met in Men’s Sheds.
This great event was closed by very insightful questions from audience and very detailed and interesting comments from a great panel on key priorities for the gender equality in the future, the needs of separated fathers and whole system changes.
For more resources and helpful info visit the Man Matters website