Tackling The Tough Times Together
Our ‘harden-up’ culture can make it difficult for men to ask for help; that’s why a Christchurch programme is helping men overcome isolation and find support in each other.
When a client comes to The Salvation Army they are typically struggling with tough personal circumstances. This impacts not only their physical wellbeing, but also takes an emotional and mental toll.
‘Men (tāne) don’t tend to talk about their mental health and can be slow to get help,’ says the government’s Health Promotion Agency. ‘You might think society expects you to handle the problem yourself or “harden-up” and get over it.’
The Salvation Army in Christchurch is addressing this barrier head-on, with a Positive Lifestyle Programme just for men. It brings them together to share their journey, as well as teaching important life skills so they can move forward.
‘The guys may come in to get a food parcel or something else, but they might say, “I’m just sitting around the house all day.” So we tell them, “We have this men’s group—come and hang out, come and have a hot pie, have a discussion, hang out with some guys and get out of the house for a bit”,’ explains Senior Community Worker Jeff Jones.
When Henry came to the course, he was struggling to find a job, had lost contact with his child and was grieving the death of family members—all of which had left him ‘feeling crushed’.
‘I felt quite soft,’ he explains. ‘I didn’t want to go on and I felt quite lost.’ He had become isolated and spent his days at home alone, turning to alcohol to cope.
‘When I came in I was quite closed up, I wasn’t socialising that well. But you would hear someone talk about a similar story and that would allow you to add your story to that. We shared things that you probably wouldn’t in normal life situations, and we were all quite close by the end of it,’ he says.
Jeff agrees that building a community is key to helping men move forward: ‘Most guys, when they come on the first day, look around and have an uncomfortable look on their face. But they start talking and find out they are not alone with their burdens, so it becomes really encouraging and uplifting.’
The programme helps men deal with issues of grief and loss, conflict resolution and self-esteem, as well as identifying their strengths and set goals for the future.
Jeff worked with Henry to help him achieve his goals. He began job-hunting, and worked with Jeff on budgeting and reducing his debt. This meant he was able to save money for a bond and secure a rental property. With a renewed confidence, he was even able to re-establish contact with his son and now sees him regularly.
Today, Henry has a job he loves and can’t believe how far he has come. ‘The Salvation Army helped me out so much and helped me get back on my feet,’ he says. ‘It really built my confidence and gave me my self-esteem back.’
Helping People Move Forward From Crisis
When someone comes to The Salvation Army for assistance, we meet their immediate needs to help them get through a crisis situation. But this is just the beginning: our goal is to help them rebuild their lives and move forward towards their goals and dreams.
The Positive Lifestyle Programme (PLP) is a key way The Salvation Army works with people to help them re-build their sense of self and set goals. We provide one-on-one training, as well as courses with a special focus—such as groups for parents and men’s and women’s groups.
PLP consists of ten weekly sessions comprising of:
- self awareness
- grief and loss
- problem solving and conflict resolution
- self esteem
- goal setting
With your help, we were able to offer over 2300 PLP sessions to almost 600 clients. Your donations make a difference to the everyday lives of so many people. Without you, we would not be able to continue with these essential services.