Step By Step (SBS) secured more than €2.6 million of European funding through the European Regional Development Fund in its €4.3 million cross-border partnership involving 10 organisations from the UK, The Netherlands, France and Belgium (see below for partner details).

SBS ended in early 2022 and empowered men to move from poor health &/or isolation to healthy social participation or active engagement in the labour market. It promoted a culture in which all citizens in all regions will have the confidence to make sustainable positive changes in their lives benefitting themselves & society. The changes included: reduced health costs related to physical & mental health issues; better health contributing to healthier individuals, families, communities & workforce; increased labour market activity; decreased number of work days lost to poor health.

The target group for SBS was specifically men and in particular those who were socially isolated and suffering from poor mental health or poor wellbeing. However the project also opened to women who are very welcome to use the new SBS services.

Background to the project:

There is consistent evidence men access health services less than women & experience poorer physical health outcomes. Their suicide rates across Europe are increasing & unemployment, non-participation, isolation & poor mental health are all contributing factors. Depression & other mental health problems are both under-detected and under-treated. Men’s physical health in all areas is similarly poor. Studies have shown that the unemployed suffer more health problems, including mental health, than those in work & the longer people stay off work when sick, the less likely they will return.

Currently health services (general practice, dentists, pharmacies etc) are under-used by men, with adverse impacts on their health, their families & their communities, as well as on employers & the national health budgets. Men are also less likely to make use of preventative health checks such as oral health, sight & screening. Outreach work by project partners has shown that men see a clear need for a different way of providing services to them within their local communities.

The SBS project delivered:

  • A model to improve men’s mental & physical health/wellbeing via a community space/workshop where men meet/learn new skills/engage in hands on activities
  • 94 new workshops implementing the model
  • New model of community health service delivery for men & vulnerable groups.
  • A gaming-based virtual tool to connect people and indirectly to raise their awareness of their physical/mental health and wellbeing.
  • Training programme to create champions for health & wellbeing from within the workshop attendees
  • Training programme for soft skills (motivational interviewing, empowerment etc)

The Health and Europe Centre is the Lead Partner for SBS and worked with:

Kent County Council (UK)

Hampshire County Council (UK)

University of Chichester (UK)

Bolwerk (BE)

Wattrelos Association of Community Centres (FR)

ADICE – Association for the development of citizen and European initiatives (FR)

Community Centre Jean Ferrat Arques (FR)

Community Centre ‘De Mussen’ (NL)

Wellbeing People (UK)

There were also a number of observer partners: The Department of Work and Pensions; Southampton City Council; UK Men’s Sheds Association; Maison de l’emploi de Valenciennois; Werkgevers Service Punt; Conseil Départemental du Nord.