Berkeley Wilde, Director of the Diversity Trust, explains why he loves working with men.
—This is article #68 in our series of #100Voices4Men and boys
I started working with men and boys about 20 years ago. Initially with gay and bisexual men, doing outreach and educating men, on the issues of safer sex and sexual health. This work was driven by the emergence of HIV / AIDS and the impact the disease was having on gay communities.
I found myself being drawn to a fight against the mainstream, politics, media and society, delivering work that was controversial and challenging; talking to men about the sex they were having and the need to protect, driven by the need to save lives.
Whilst working in this field I found there were gaps in what we were doing; these gaps I realised were around two areas; one was what I will call “community development” and the other was the challenge of bad old laws that criminalised sex between men. I set about working on both. The more engagement and development work I did the more new men I would come into contact with and this provided opportunities to educate, but also to empower groups of men.
Working with gay and bisexual young men, working with married me who were still “in the closet” but having sex with other men. These were real life stories you didn’t read about in the mainstream media. But it provided opportunities to engage and reach out to these groups of men.
After almost 10 years of this work I needed a new challenge and I was privileged to have been given two opportunities. The first was to be working on a Department of Health research project working with men across England on generic men’s health themes. This led me into close working relationships with the Men’s Health Forum and eventually a job with the European Men’s Health Forum in Brussels.
When this came to an end, I had been planning for a long time to become freelance, I was able to set up as a management consultant and trainer, working in the areas of health inequality and in my passions of equality and diversity.
This followed by setting up the Diversity Trust and I have been so fortunate to have been able to work in all of the areas I have an interest in including returning to men’s health with a new research project I am working on locally. With our commissioners we have recognised a need, given the health inequalities men and boys experience, to address these inequalities and make a difference to the lives of local men and boys.
Working at a national and international level provides its opportunities, which I have valued, but there is nothing like working with local communities and speaking direct about their lived experiences of health and wellbeing.
I feel I am in a unique position in that I have experienced a vast array of different opportunities to engage with men and boys in a wide range of settings. This has provided me with a unique perspective and the ability to challenge where discrimination exists.
Whether it be through supporting victims of hate crime or working with organisations wanting to improve practices; whether it be asking people about their experiences of their health and accessing health services; or working with schools to meet their equality duties. These are opportunities which I believe have a benefit for everyone.
—Picture credit: See Ming Lee
You can read more about the work of Berkeley Wilde, at the Diversity Trust website: www.diversitytrust.org.uk.
You can find all of the #100Voices4Men articles that will be published in the run up to International Men’s Day 2014 by clicking on this link—#100Voices4Men—and follow the discussion on twitter by searching for #100Voices4Men.
The views expressed in these articles are not the views of insideMAN editorial team. Whether you agree with the views expressed in this article or not we invite you to take take part in this important discussion, our only request is that you express yourself in a way that ensures everyone’s voice can be heard.