I was listening to a group of people talking about the difficulties to obtain support for a charity, that gives them support.
I had heard similar discussions on several occasions, over several months. After hearing the same type of conversation for the 4th time, it really hit me how harsh their situation was and how well the trustees were doing, to get the fairly meagre support that they are getting. The real practical difficulties that the trustees faced had taken a long time to sink in, so that I could see how harsh a challenge they faced and were overcoming.
On further thought, it came back to me the change about 15 years ago, when charitable support for men’s groups was starting to be aggressively cut off. I was involved in Men’s Centre later, as this cutoff was turning into a completely blocked pipe. Despite a moderate amount of effort, I was completely unable to make any useful progress.
OK, so what? Well although it is true that the richest individuals in NZ are men, it is also true that there are many poor, very poor and socially disadvantaged men. Some people say that men can live rough, but it is unreasonable to expect a woman to live rough. WINZ put that attitude onto a man in Ashburton for 12 months and in the end, he expressed his frustrations in ascending noise levels, eventually gunshots. Many other men prefer to sleep rough, to being a part of genteel NZ society. I sometimes feel that way myself, but at least I have a choice. I cannot abide the sexist couldn’t care less for men attitude, even less the dullards who express it. They cannot live without the creations of men, but they cannot acknowledge that fundamental reality with any charm. (Are they not the creations of men themself?)
It was a lady who when asked what was the most disadvantaged group in NZ, who suggested that there are many groups in very harsh spaces, but one that she felt was too ignored and least supported, was poor men with mental health problems. At first I was surprised, but with knowing what to look for, I could see that there was considerable truth in what she said. I think she was a psychiatrist, but I cannot recall the details.
I am beating a round the bush, get to it!
So as the hashish smoke swirled around in my imagination, I came back to the image of Jim Bagnall.
Through the days of easier access to charitable donations, he was there. Through the days of difficult access to charitable donations, he was there, putting in time, knowledge and skills and often his own money.
Many of the women and men that he helped, later came onto better times, both in terms of time and money. However, often there was little acknowledgement of his support or thanks, let alone support back or even support for the next wave of people needing support. [Lots of things left out here, that I might like to say…] There was a lot of flack and criticism, much of it malicious and from the people who are the problem, or at least aren’t helping usefully……
So, I want to be clear that it was Jim Bagnall’s seminar in Remuerahh that led me into men’s groups. It was his teaching and ideas that showed me much of the way. I know many other people who will say the same. I might disagree on small points, but so what!
I hope that other people will also make clear their appreciation, as these things do need to be said.
Thanks, thanks, thanks, thanks.
Maybe Jim B stands out the most, but there is quite a big group of men and women who have helped the causes of disadvantaged parents. They have all played important parts, in this unfortunate phase in NZ’s social history. Of course, thanks to them all too.
Jim is a rare man. (Good old schoolteacher!)