What do you think a positive male role model is, do you have one, and would you consider yourself one? If so, why?
It isn't easy to define what makes a positive male role model as we all value traits and behaviours differently. For me I've tried to emulate the kindness, strength, and selflessness I've seen or experienced from other men, naturally beginning with my first male role model, my father, who I idolised until his death when I was 12.
As an adult I find myself respecting men like Tim Peake, Brian Blessed, Matt Baker and a variety of other men in my personal life who seem like good, kind, decent men with values and drive who have taken on challenges with modesty and decorum. Growing up I joined the military and found a resonance in the values and standards of the British Army which helped shape me and exposed me to countless role models both positive and negative which helped to structure my own values and behaviours. At times in my life when I’ve felt I needed a chat with my Dad and couldn't, I’ve read the poem “if” by Rudyard Kipling which I have always used as a sage piece of advice.
I try to be a positive role model for my children and those around me as I see it as not only a professional obligation as a paramedic mentor but also a moral duty to help shape the future. It is well documented the struggles young men face in the modern world and how the lack of positive male role models has been a contributory factor to their all too frequent downfalls, so if I can be a force for positivity or inspiration for want of a better word, I will be.
How important is it to you to look after yourself and your wellbeing, and how do you do that?
Losing my father, my hero, to suicide when he was the age I am now, strikes a timely chord with me which highlights the importance of caring for our own mental and physical wellbeing. Having struggled with both my physical and mental health at points in my life I always find it hard to put myself first, but I am learning the importance of taking the time to rest, heal and give myself credit for the good I do in the world without being too hard on myself when I fall short of my own high standards.
I find the stolen moments with my choice of music blasting in the car or walking by the sea help me unwind and to balance myself ready to take on the world again.
What advice can you give to other men who may be struggling?
The simplest and most effective advice I give anyone who is struggling is just “talk”. It is so hard to recognise and verbalise when we are struggling that too often, we bottle it up and cause ourselves more stress, worry or anger which only perpetuates or multiplies or problem.
Give yourself 3 seconds of unembarrassed bravery to say “I’m not ok” to someone you love, a trusted colleague, a kind stranger on the phone or your GP. Once you’ve made that first difficult step, let them hear you and let them try to help you. There is always someone there for you but often when we bury our head, we can't see what's in front of us.
Please, just talk.
Anything else you’d like to talk about? For example, patient care, what it’s like working in the ambulance service as a man etc.
Life in the modern world is difficult for men. We don't live in the world our fathers did, meaning the lessons, values, and behaviours we learnt from them aren't always fitting or appropriate. We also didn't grow up in the world the younger men are now with its incredible pressures and challenges, meaning we can occasionally seem outdated or struggle to relate to the issues or problems they have, or we can become frustrated when they don't behave how we would maybe expect them to or how we think we would in their situation.
This transfers into life on the ambulance as we often find ourselves dealing with patients or problems that “in our day” wouldn't necessarily require help or support from an outside agency. This is crucially when being kind, strong and selfless come to the forefront and we should support, encourage, and empower those men and women around us who maybe just need a present, kind, and supportive male role model in their lives.