Global Fund for Children launches groundbreaking initiative to transform boys’ and young men’s lives in the UK

The Healthy Masculinities programme will focus on rural communities and organisations operating outside major cities, prioritising trauma-informed approaches to masculinities and funding preventative work.

June 8, 2023 – London – Today, Global Fund for Children is proud to unveil an exciting three-year initiative to promote healthy masculinities and provide crucial support to at-risk boys and young men across England. Building on the success of an 18-month pilot, this groundbreaking project marks a turning point in empowering and uplifting the next generation of boys and young men.

The COVID-19 pandemic has left an indelible mark on the lives of all young people, with a UK Youth study identifying sharp increases in mental health and well-being concerns, increased isolation, a lack of safe spaces and trusted relationships, and a higher risk of engaging in gangs, substance misuse, and weapon-carrying amongst boys. The time for action is now.

Despite being a vital area of work, healthy masculinities is an area of civil society that is sporadically funded and often misunderstood. Global Fund for Children’s Healthy Masculinities programme will work to change this by supporting partners in amplifying the voices of boys and young men, supporting gender inclusion activism, and exploring a range of mediums that will support a healthy masculinities movement.

GFC’s Healthy Masculinities programme expands on the resounding success of the Boys and Young Men (BYM) pilot initiative in 2020, which empowered a network of ten community-based organisations in England to foster positive, healthy, and expansive masculinities. Joining forces with esteemed partners such as Breaking the Silence (Bradford), Haven (Sheffield), The Warren Youth Project (Hull), the Violence Intervention Project (London), and YOH (London), this new chapter promises to leave a lasting impact on boys and young men nationwide.

Building on the work of community-based partners across England and with a new focus on underserved rural communities and organisations operating beyond major cities, the Healthy Masculinities programme seeks to address the prevailing gaps by prioritising trauma-informed approaches to masculinities and funding preventative work tailored to boys and young men.

It is a call to reimagine masculinities, promoting boys’ and young men’s visions of alternative, expansive, and healthy expressions that acknowledge the intersections of race, class, gender identity, sex, location, religion, and ability and the realities of their lives. Moreover, it aims to rectify the glaring absence of youth voices in this discourse, providing a platform for children and young people to share their own perspectives.

At its core, the Healthy Masculinities programme recognises the indispensable role played by community organisations and local charities, which possess a unique ability to reach and support at-risk and vulnerable boys and young men in ways that statutory organisations cannot. By championing their work, GFC hopes to ignite broader funder engagement in this critical area, both in England and across the UK, with far-reaching implications on an international scale.

For example, partner Breaking the Silence (BTS) supports a particularly underserved population of West Yorkshire: Black-African, Afro-Caribbean, and South Asian boys and young men who are affected by, or are survivors of, sexual abuse, many of whom are reluctant to seek help because of structural racism and patriarchal cultural structures. BTS conducts extensive community outreach to find its clients, supports them through interventions to keep them safe, and then offers individual and group counselling to meet each survivor’s unique needs.

“The Support from GFC has radically transformed our work and the sector,” said Imran Manzoor, Head of Service at Breaking the Silence. “It is so much more than merely financial – GFC commits on a personal level to helping upskill organisations like ours. To better serve the needs of our beneficiaries, to make us increasingly more viable to funders, and to better inform the wider sector, we are indebted to GFC for the support we’ve received.”

“Through our 18-month UK pilot and other projects internationally, we know that to make a sustainable difference in the lives of boys and young men, we need to support local, community-based organisations that have the most impact on the ground,” said Katherine Gilmour, Regional Co-Director for Europe and Eurasia at Global Fund for Children. “We also need to increase youth voices in this field, and in public conversations around healthy masculinities. Although we know this is what works, this area is often inconsistently or under-resourced, which is why Global Fund for Children has launched a new funder partnership to create longer-term funding streams for grassroots, community-based organisations doing vital and often under-recognised work with boys and young men in communities throughout the UK.” 

 Statistics paint a sobering picturE:
  • Boys and young men are less likely to feel a sense of agency in their schools and communities, and they are more likely to express a lack of interest in social action.
  • Boys in the UK face a threefold risk of permanent exclusion from schools compared to girls.
  • Of children remanded in youth custody, 96% are male.
  • Nearly one in three young men in the UK admitted to making sexually harassing comments to women or girls they didn’t know in public places or on the internet and social media platforms in the previous month.
  • Suicide is the leading cause of death among young people aged 16 to 24, with three-quarters of these tragic losses being male, particularly affecting young men aged 20 to 24.
  • Young people who join radical extremist groups are predominantly male, coming from marginalised backgrounds, and facing economic and educational disadvantages.

The time has come to reshape the narrative, empower boys and young men, and inspire change. Join us at the launch event and become part of a movement that will redefine healthy masculinities, paving the way for a brighter and more inclusive future.

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Global Fund for Children (GFC) UK Trust, created in 2006, is a UK registered charity (UK charity number 1119544). We work to generate vital income, create new fundraising opportunities, and raise awareness of the invaluable work of GFC’s grassroots grantees. Our aim is to extend the reach of GFC in the United Kingdom, Europe, and beyond.

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