Background to the project

Manchester Men’s Health has been developed by the youth and community worker, Tony Sheppard, who has accumulated over 12 years of experience in delivering an ‘alternative men’s work strategy’.

Building on the training Tony received from Working with Men in 2000, Tony went onto develop and deliver the highly innovative and influential Wyseguys project, based in Wythenshawe, Manchester.

There through delivering ‘men’s work programmes’, Tony worked with 100’s of vulnerable young men and enabled them to reflect on themselves as being ‘a man’ and enabled them to seek out positive solutions and interventions to improve their health and well being.

He did this through the delivery of male only group work sessions, where safety and security was established and where young men gained greater knowledge around Sexual Health, Mental health, the role of masculinity, fatherhood.

He provided creative art sessions utilising the skills he has acquired as a published writer and prominent performance artist.

He also provided sport and leisure opportunities with the sole aim of improving the young men’s health and well being.

Tony has gone onto deliver specific programmes of work and interventions for LIME ARTS, The Contact Theatre, CAPE UK, Manchester Public Health Development, Trinity House and YPSF.

For 10 years he has delivered the hugely successful 2 days training ‘It a Man’s World’, for Manchester Public Health Development.

He has delivered this work in schools, alternative school provision’s, youth clubs, youth settings, theatre’s and prisons.


Why the need for the work

Unfortunately, it seems that men can choose a destructive lifestyle. A man in the UK can expect on average to die 5 years younger than women. If a man is partly skilled or unskilled then a man can have a life expectancy of less than 70 years. A man can expect to be seriously or chronically ill for 15 years of his life.

In the many group work sessions that I have delivered with young men, I often pose this question.

‘How is it that from the moment of birth, between a boy and girl in the UK. The girl is going to enjoy much more life chances and better health than the boy?’

The girl will have a greater chance at succeeding at school, with young men being more likely to be excluded from school, or not attend, or be more likely to end up in a behavioural unit.

By the time the girl reaches the age of 15, her young male counterpart has a 65% higher chance of dying. When she reaches the age of 30, men at the same age will be 3 times more likely to commit suicide.

Moving into adulthood mortality rates are higher for men than women for all the major causes of death, including cancer and cardiovascular disease. In fact 7 out of every 8 men have at least one risk factor for heart disease and only 25% of men with high blood pressure have their condition controlled by medication and that 87 % of European men do not inspect their testicles for possible testicular cancer.

Furthermore, 45% of men are overweight with a 1/3 diagnosed as being clinically obese. That’s little wonder when we discover that 60% of men are physically inactive.

When it comes to alcohol, we find that twice as many men than women drink above the maximum recommended alcohol intake, that during my 12 years of working with young men. I have also encountered a high usage of cannabis amongst young men. I have encountered men with poor mental health. Who go to bed in the early hours and do not rise until late in the afternoon. Who have very low confidence and self- esteem.

If this isn’t bad enough, roughly 95% of the prison population are men.