Taraki x Movember: Reflection 13

Taraki x Movember: Reflection 13
Working with Punjabi Men: ‘Hard to Reach’ or ‘Easily Ignored’?

It’s coming up to the halfway mark of us delivering our Punjabi men’s peer support program to our amazing partner organisations, Sikh Alliance Yorkshire and Heera Foundation. I can’t overstate enough how incredible this part of the project has been.

The first year of the project was characterised by a lot of reflective individual work that is rooted in a lot of theory, something which I really enjoyed as it resonates with my introverted nature. However, the second year has been all about delivering our program where I’ve really loved engaging with the Punjabi men participating.

Our sessions are delivered every second Saturday, starting at 7:15 am and finishing at 10:45 am. When this was first proposed I wasn’t very enthusiastic about the early start, especially on a Saturday. However, now I look forward to each session because it’s such a special space we are able to cultivate with the men attending.

In all honesty, I leave every session feeling energised, optimistic and happy. Which is a rare thing for someone to say after spending 3 hours on Zoom on a Saturday morning!

The reason I leave each session feeling so positive is that spending time with these men makes me realise how much potential for positive change there is among Punjabi men in our communities. Positive change that is grounded in better community-based support for mental health for men in our communities.

While the overriding emotions during this experience have been positive, there is a big part of me that feels a level of frustration and sadness.

The reason I feel these emotions is because it makes me realise for how long our communities have been ignored when it comes to our mental well-being under the guise of being ‘hard to reach’. Our work at Taraki, and my own work in our communities with the various other community organisations I am involved in, has always resulted in great levels of engagement. There has never been a point in my career where I have struggled to engage our communities, whether it’s on mental health, personal finances or COVID-19. I mean take this program, for example, we have 15 men showing up voluntarily on a Saturday morning between the hours of 7:15 am and 10:45am.

The reason I bring this up isn’t to brag, it’s more because I want to show that for far too long our communities and other racialised and marginalised communities have been ignored under the banner of being ‘hard to reach’, when in reality, structurally we have been easily ignored. Our work is a good example, among others, that building an equitable future is grounded in empathy and meeting folks where they are (physically, mentally, and spiritually) because the more we do that the more we work collectively for a better future.

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