Men’s Health – It Starts With a Conversation

Finding support in each other over the years, Arthur and Glyn’s regular checks-ins helped them deal with life’s ups a downs. In time, recognising the signs of other colleagues struggling too; they realised the value of having someone there to listen – and the idea for the GENts Forum was born.

Arthur and Glyn originally met at the Aircraft Maintenance Academy many years ago. Whilst they aren’t part of the same team, their ‘work’ paths have crossed a number of times throughout their careers and today they credit each other with providing invaluable listening and support through difficult times.

They often called and messaged each other to talk through how they were feeling, and when they were both at their lowest it enabled them to speak up freely about how they were coping at that time. The regular check-ins made them both feel so much better despite still having to deal with life’s ups and downs.

During this time, they also started to witness the struggles other male colleagues in their team were having and realised that this was a bigger issue than they first thought. Males in general, seemed to be finding it much harder to ask for help when they were struggling.

Arthur and Glyn learnt how to spot the signs of colleagues struggling and found themselves listening and supporting more and more men going through difficult times. Just being there and listening proved beneficial. This is when the GENts forum idea was born.

Running monthly since 2021, the agenda is a mix of open forum and guest speakers, where callers can talk about everything from hobbies to their own life experiences. The forums are informal and anyone dialling in can participate as little or as much as they wish. People can even join anonymously, if they prefer to do so.

Arthur said:
“The topics we’ve spoken about are always open and we’ve really built a level or trust and friendship in the group.”

Although the group aims to get men together to talk, it is actually open to all. One of the most recent topics being discussed is around prostate cancer and it’s a topic which resonated for a much wider demographic than the group’s main target audience. Arthur explained:

“We wanted to try and help break down some of the stigma and embarrassment associated with health issues like prostate cancer, and we know there’s been some women benefited from these sessions too.

“They’ve come back to us afterwards and said how they felt they could better understand, support or encourage the men in their lives that might be dealing with the issue of prostate cancer too after hearing the issue discussed so openly. “

And it seems the response from those taking part in the sessions more generally has been really positive too. Glyn added:

“Numerous people have shared their thanks with us for setting up the project and have said how much they value the session and look forward to it each month.”

The great work the pair have done in creating the GENts forum has not gone unnoticed as they recently received a Business Leader Award in our Company’s global recognition programme.

As for the future of the GENts programme, Arthur and Glyn have ambitions to see the programme grow and develop into something that could be adopted by BAE Systems globally.

Glyn said: “The participants we’ve had so far have said themselves that they see GENts as that safe space where they feel they can open up without any fear of judgement or ridicule, which is exactly what Arthur and I aimed for when we set GENts up.

So, whilst it’s really gratifying to know that we’re having an impact in that way, we think there’s still room for this to grow, so that others, in other parts of the business can also benefit from the experience and support, and that’s what we hope to work towards.”

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