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A leap of faith for men's health

Posted by Jon Meyrick, about 2 months ago

2 min read

Late last year, Tax Manager Michelle Hastie did something which made her very, very nervous. An enormous 100 foot bungee jump. But it was for a fantastic cause, and motivated by something very significant in her life.

The jump, which raised money for men’s health charity Movember, happened during an event which was part of our Do Good, Feel Good colleague fundraising programme. And after gift aid and a cashback award from NatWest Group, Michelle was able to raise only just shy of £1900.

Very sadly, it was personal loss that motivated Michelle – who calls herself ‘terrified of heights’ – to take on such a daunting challenge.

‘After losing a friend to suicide at the end of 2022, I wanted to sign up to a challenge in his memory,’ she says. ‘Not only to raise money for suicide prevention, but also try to get people talking about men’s mental health.

‘I know that, for some people, talking about health is uncomfortable. But I decided that if I can do this jump at the age of 53, then maybe it will help others find the courage to do something they might find hard to do... talk!’

A tragic motivation

‘The loss of my friend was so unexpected, he was a window cleaner, chatted to everyone in the community, he really was the life and soul of the party, so his death was a complete shock to everyone who knew him. I’ve since learnt that many men suffer in silence when it comes to their mental health.

‘I chose to raise money for Movember as they know what works for men and what doesn’t when it comes to supporting mental health and suicide. They also raise money and awareness for prostate cancer and testicular cancer. Since 2003, Movember has funded more than 1250 men’s health projects around the world, challenging the status quo, shaking up men’s health research, and transforming the way health services reach and support men.

‘Men are dying too young. We can’t afford to stay silent,’ says Michelle. ‘I decided that I wanted to do more, so with the support of the Allied Men network, Rufus Kendall and I set up a monthly Men’s Health Support Circle with the goal of creating a safe space to talk. We aim to get the conversation started, which can be the toughest first step for many people who aren’t used to sharing their thoughts and feelings. We discuss different topics and issues impacting men’s health. Recently we focused on loneliness and companionship for example.’

Being part of the solution

Kai Grunwald of Allied Men, part of our employee-led Gender Network, agrees. ‘What Michelle is doing completely embodies what Allied Men is all about,’ he says. ‘Bringing attention to how men, women, and all genders being allied to each other is how we create a more equal world. Disproportionate levels of suicide in men is one of many gender-based inequalities as is, for example, disproportionate levels of domestic abuse and the gender pay gap faced by women. Allied Men is leading a conversation on how we encourage men to play their part and fully engage in all these topics, to be allies to each other and to all genders. Our mission is open to all.’

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