So much can happen in the space of 12 months and in 2018 Men Care Too had a number of great opportunities to learn, grow and work alongside others in a variety of ways.
In February MCT partnered with Carer Escapes to deliver the first of two ‘Men’s Day Out’ events held at Glenworth Valley on the NSW Central Coast. Men of different ages and backgrounds were invited to take part in Kayaking and Drumming activities along with enjoying a BBQ lunch and informal discussions about the caring role. The event made possible thanks to sponsorship from The Iris Foundation and participation from the carers who came along on the day. A second Men’s Day Out in June, this time sponsored by Your Side, proved just as popular with attendees and highlighted the benefits of social activities as a way to encourage men in caring roles to take a much needed and well deserved break from their regular responsibilities.
In April MCT again partnered with The Iris Foundation to host a screening of ‘The Ripple Effect’, a thought provoking film that looks at the impact of suicide and attempted suicide on family and community. Held at Tuggerah, the screening was attended by over 100 locals and included powerful, personal reflection from community members who, in finding ways to manage their own challenges, have made a huge difference in the lives of others.
Topics such as suicide, and mental health can be difficult to discuss but given the physical and financial stress of caring along with the isolation and lack of meaningful support that many carers experience, these topics need to be talked about openly and Men Care Too will continue to advocate for all carers on these issues.
In April, MCT joined the Hunter New England Men’s Health Network and has attended monthly meetings where strategies to increase awareness of men’s health issues are discussed. These meetings, along with the Central Coast Men’s Interagency provide MCT with an opportunity to have the perspective and experience of men in caring roles included, and considered, in discussions.
June was the Men’s Health Week ’Men Cook Too’ event held at Erina in partnership with Wesley Sector and Support Central Coast and the Central Coast Local Health District. During the first half of the event, The Wholesome Collective presented a live cooking demonstration providing tips on quick and healthy meal options for any size family. The second half of the event welcomed 3 time Australian Heavyweight Boxing Champion Bob ‘Big Bear’ Mirovic along with former Australian, NSW and Western Suburbs Rugby League great Don Parish. RUOK? Day Central Coast Ambassador Chris Newman joined the men on stage and discussed highlights of their careers and talked about the challenges they faced in and out of their sporting lives.
In July MCT, with support from The Glen Rehab Centre at Chittaway Point, attended the Suicide Prevention Australia Conference in Adelaide where a 'Men Care Too' poster presentation was shared with over 600 delegates. The poster highlighted some of the challenges male carers face and called for more male friendly services and support.
Tradies Month in August was a good chance for MCT to highlight that many men with caring responsibilities are employed and feel pressures to provide and look after their families. Employers across all industries need to promote greater flexibility in roles to encourage workers with caring responsibilities to maintain employment where possible. Still in August, TheMHS—The Mental Health Services Conference was held in Adelaide and thanks to a bursary from the event organisers, MCT was able to attend the 3 day event. The opportunity to present a snapshot of Men Care Too during a session based on personal stories was greatly appreciated and with over 50 people in attendance the topic of men in caring roles was again reaching more people.
In October, the Carers NSW conference provided MCT with a chance to share some key statistics on male carers insights into the work of Men Care Too with organisations and people working within the carer support sector in NSW. We also celebrated National Carers Week with a private tour of The Art House and lunch followed the next day by an open community event at Erina Men’s Shed.
The National Men's Health Gathering held at Parramatta in November was a chance to learn about how services and programs from around the country are making a difference in the lives of Australian men along with presenting the MCT initiative during a session. International Mens' Day activities also in November were a great chance to show how positive male role models have a huge impact on the whole of community. Events in Sydney, Newcastle and on the Central Coast that MCT were involved with were well attended and enjoyed by both men and women of all ages and backgrounds.
It has been great to be involved in many other events and activities throughout the year and planning for ‘time well spent’ in 2019 is already well underway!