“Men live on average five years less than women and have higher mortality rates from all 15 leading causes of death,” says health promotion specialist Jo McCullagh.
Men, especially in deprived areas, are a hard-to-reach group.
“They don’t tend to use health services as these are not really geared up for men,” says Ms McCullagh.
She says that GP surgeries can appear to be geared to women “littered with toys and leaflets about the menopause” while their opening hours discourage men in employment from seeking support.
The partnership, consisting of Sefton MBC , Sefton Primary Care Trust and the local Council for Voluntary Services , won£120,000 funding from European Union regeneration budgets to encourage men in the most deprived parts of the borough Bootle, Seaforth and Dunningsbridge Road to lead healthier lifestyles.
To discover what action was needed, three focus groups were set up, canvassing opinion from 20 men. There were also one-to-one interviews with another 34. “The men we consulted at the start defined what is in the programme,” says Ms McCullagh.
There was also training to be ‘peer mentors’ for 13 men including eight taxi drivers who were then able to offer advice and give out cards with contact details for more support.
In just one year, the drivers spoke to around 26,500 people.
“They do it on a voluntary basis instead of talking to passengers about the weather they talk about health, stopping smoking, eating sensibly and taking exercise,” says Ms McCullagh.
Teams of health promotion workers have gone out into the community to places where men work or socialise pubs, five-a-side football leagues and even betting shops.
More than 250 people have taken up what the partnership calls “male MOTs” health checks of cholesterol levels, blood pressure and body mass index.
Ms McCullagh says: “Men love screening and MOTs, it’s a real hook they like anything that has mechanical or car analogies.”
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