Panto stars back Merseyside CALM

Stars of Jack and the Beanstalk pantomime in St Helens are supporting the Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) and its Man Down campaign; an initiative by the Merseyside Charity that aims to halt the rising suicide rates among young males in the region.

The stars of the pantomime, showing at St Helens Theatre Royal, include Linda Nolan and former Emmerdale star Kurtis Stacey. They’re collaborating to help with the Man Down campaign, which aims to inspire men to get the support that they need when going through difficult times, and to speak out about their problems and the problems of others.

This issue is particularly poignant considering that suicide is now the single biggest cause of death for men aged 20 – 49 in England and Wales, with men accounting for 78% of all suicides in the UK and male suicide at a 15 year high.

Kurtis Stacey, who played Alex Moss on Emmerdale, said:

“Too often men feel they need to bottle up their problems instead of being open about them and getting help. These next few months can be even more problematic for those already struggling, so it’s more important than ever to reach out to those having a hard time. The cast are 100% behind the CALM campaign and will do all we can to highlight the charity’s message that being silent isn’t being strong.”

Campaign co-ordinator at CALM, Simon Howes, said:

“When we piloted the campaign in Sefton in September 2012 it really struck a chord with thousands of blokes. Rather than reaching a point of crisis, they picked up the phone and contacted our free and confidential helpline with a range of issues bothering them such as anger management, going through a break-up, caring for a sick loved one or being made redundant. It was proof to us that there is a real need for support out there.

“There is still a massive cultural barrier preventing men from seeking help as they are expected to just “man up” and get on with it, otherwise be branded weak and less masculine. The Man Down campaign aims to turn this misconception completely on its head by empowering men to stand up and take control of their lives, to seek out appropriate help when they need it and to look out for their fellow man. No community, business, group of friends or family on Merseyside should be a man down.”

Simon added:

“Christmas is a particular pressure point for men, as our work in previous years has demonstrated. Unlike women, men don’t tend to have many support networks in their lives which can make Christmas and New Year even harder to deal with. And it doesn’t help that the media often portrays us blokes as being pretty useless at this time of year. We want to get across that being silent isn’t being strong and there is help out there if men need it.”

The Man Down Campaign launched in Liverpool in September 2014 after a pilot scheme in Sefton, launched September 2012, proved highly successful. The campaign involves twitter outreach and viral marketing techniques that have previously proven popular to spread the message and draw attention to male suicide.

The campaign has been backed by St Helens RLFC, St Helens Council, Everton FC, Tranmere Rovers FC, Sefton Park Cricket Club, and Southport Football Club.

Simon continued:

“We feel the Man Down campaign is a strong way of connecting with men in the area and getting our message out to as many people as possible that it is ok to talk to someone about issues that are worrying them and getting them down.”


Image Credit


Words: Peter Cribley

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