The launch of First Man Standing took place on Saturday 25 June. First Man Standing is an opportunity for men everywhere to be the first in their family, club, church or workplace to stand up and speak out about building strong relationships and ending violence against women. We were delighted by the response and thank God for many answered prayers. You can sign up now at www.restoreduk.org/firstmanstanding
Peter Grant, Natalie Collins and her husband Baggy spoke to 500 men from all over the UK in a field near Swindon on Saturday. This was the Gathering, the annual conference of Christian Vision for Men (see www.cvmen.org.uk). CVM’s vision is for men to follow Christ and encourage each other. They are pioneering “The Code”, a new rule of life for men that includes much that supports First Man Standing.
We showed the “real men knit” video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2jYa_rJyG18 ) and then Peter talked about the “Man Box” – expectations of how a man should behave – and how Jesus lived outside that box. Natalie gave some statistics (focussed on 1 in 4 women being affected in the UK), and told her own story which got a very strong response. Baggy followed up with a man’s perspective.
Peter then launched First Man Standing as a response to the problem. He urged men to:
- Respect all women everywhere and demonstrate love and support for women and children in their family.
- Challenge other men by speaking out to their friends and colleagues about ending violence and negative attitudes towards women.
- Join the cause and make a personal pledge never to commit, condone or remain silent about violence against women.
We estimate that well over 400 stood up to express their support. Baggy then followed up with some practical suggestions for action at work, home and church, and Natalie finished off with a call to action. It was great stuff. Everyone had the leaflets and cards on their seats and over 100 signed up on the cards to take it further. We also had a good representation of First Man Standing drinks mats around the site and several men took resources to use at their home church. Do contact us (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you would like some of the resources to use. We are encouraged that as men stand up, they will start to change the culture and turn the tide of violence against women.
In the afternoon we had some great conversations with police, ex-military, vicars and a host of others. There were lots of very positive feedback and ideas. We are very grateful to Carl Beech and CVM for inviting us and for their partnership in First Man Standing. We very much enjoyed the weekend and look forward to being back next year. It was a very significant weekend for Restored, and we give glory to God.