We partnered with Brighton-based charity Mankind UK to fund A Hero’s Journey, a psycho-educational group for men who have experienced sexual abuse, with a grant of £70,000 over three years. A Hero’s Journey is one of Mankind’s four complementary programmes, a structure that allows clients to shape their own progress.
“Men who have been abused are expected to tough it out”, Andrew, the Project Co-Lead, tells us. “They’re told to ‘man up’, get on with it, because "stereotypical masculinity rejects fear, shame, vulnerability and helplessness – but those are the exact things abuse evokes. One of the most important parts of our work is breaking that down. A Hero’s Journey gives men permission to be vulnerable.”
The impact of this “permission to be vulnerable” is intensified in a group setting, according to Alistair, who co-leads A Hero’s Journey with Andrew. He says: “what’s most life-changing for many is being able to be vulnerable in a group with other men. Consistently, one of the biggest things they report is the sense of not feeling alone any more and they tell us that really is life-changing.”
Patrick, one of the first participants in A Hero’s Journey, echoes this sentiment. Although he’s had counselling and read widely about psychological education before joining the group, he says that “being together with other men made this different. It was really profound, and it made me see that despite what I went through, I am not weak; I have strength.”
Yet prior to the Lloyds Bank Foundation grant, Mankind was unable to offer the life-changing A Hero’s Journey in the way it does today. Alistair and Andrew had been contracted to run occasional sessions, which lacked permanence and made for an uncertain future. Martyn, the CEO, says the grant brought stability: “the funding from Lloyds Bank Foundation helped us consolidate what we like to say was the world’s longest pilot. Now we can run A Hero’s Journey consistently, making a difference for so many men.”
The nature of Mankind’s work means that unlike many small and local charities, they cannot rely on volunteers to help deliver their services; as professionals, Alistair and Andrew bring over 35 years’ combined experience and have had extensive training. However, Martyn says, “it’s getting more and more difficult to get funding. Lots of funders want to fund the exciting work - but there’s an unglamorous side too. They may not want to pay for electricity, but clients need to be in a lit room.”