More than 50 UK charities, academics, journalists and campaigners have launched a new coalition to tackle gender-specific issues that affect men and boys.
The Men and Boys Coalition, which was launched at an event in the House of Commons last week, has also called on the Big Lottery Fund to create a new Men and Boys Initiative to run alongside its existing ringfenced funding stream for women and girls.
Charities involved in the coalition, which brings together organisations and people who specialise in fields ranging from mental health and suicide prevention to education and parenting, include the Campaign Against Living Miserably, the male domestic abuse charity the ManKind Initiative and the sexual violence charity Survivors Manchester.
A statement announcing the new initiative said it was believed to be the first coalition of its type in the world and it would aim to ensure that issues affecting men and boys were fully recognised and tackled by government, the statutory sector and society in general.
The move comes after the group submitted a response to a Cabinet Office consultation on the Big Lottery Fund’s policy directions in August, saying that the government department should ensure the grant-maker took a more gender-inclusive approach in future.
"This is to ensure that equal recognition is given to the need to fund charities supporting men and boys as is given to the need to fund charities supporting women and girls," the submission said. "In practice, for example, this means that if the Big Lottery Fund creates a ringfenced funding stream similar to the Women and Girls Initiative, then it also creates a similar Men and Boys Initiative funding stream on the same basis."
Within the last Big Lottery Fund funding round, there was a ringfenced £48.5m Women and Girls Initiative, which funded 60 organisations.
Mark Brooks, chair of the ManKind Initiative, told Third Sector he had met the BLF twice in recent months to discuss the coalition’s requests and although the funder had not committed to creating a new ringfenced fund, it appeared to be taking the group’s concerns seriously.
Brooks said he did not want any money to be taken away from projects for women and girls, but simply for issues involving men and boys to receive equal recognition and for adequate levels of funding to be available for problems – such as suicide – that affect men more than women.
"The funding available should be proportionate to the need," he said.
A spokeswoman for the funder said the BLF already supported many projects where the primary beneficiaries were men and boys.
"As part of our future improvements to our funding, we will be doing more to increase opportunities for smaller, grass-roots community groups to get funding, share what they’ve learned and work together with others who have similar goals," she said. "We expect that this will create new opportunities for organisations working to tackle important issues facing men and boys, such as male suicide, educational attainment, parenting, and health and wellbeing."
The conditions of membership for the new coalition include an agreement that progress for men and boys should never come at the expense of the interests and wellbeing of women and girls.