Stephen Manderson (AKA Professor Green), who is patron of the charity Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) and scooped the MIND ‘Making a Difference' National Award in 2016, has made several thoughtful, empathetic, and relevant documentaries for the BBC and Channel 4 on important topics such as mental health, suicide, homelessness and poverty.
In his Working Class White Men documentary, he explored the ‘identity crisis' that is affecting young white men from disadvantaged backgrounds and documented the challenges they face in education, employment, and in their home lives. The documentary detailed how the white working class are ‘losing their way', lacking in self-esteem, status and social recognition. They are the group in society least likely to go to university but most likely to prison and because of how they are perceived by society many feel forgotten and demonised.
The British rapper and documentary maker, who himself comes from the hugely deprived Northwold estate in Hackney, visited Edge Hill University last week as part of the university's annual Festival of Ideas which this year explored the theme of equalities. He was in conversation with Dr Eleanor Peters, Grace Robinson and Sean Creaney about the struggles for today's young people and what can be done to bring more equality to society.
Through his talks, documentaries and campaign work, Stephen is giving vulnerable people, especially those who are demonised and marginalised by society, a voice, providing a platform for them to share their stories. Through growing up in a low-income family, being brought up by his Nan and great-Nan, Stephen has overcome adversity and is an inspiration to others that change is possible.
At the Edge Hill event Stephen also discussed men's mental health. He encouraged people, especially men, to ‘open up' about their struggles with mental health. Due to a dominant bravado or macho image, men can find it difficult to share what's on their mind. Stephen also discussed trauma. Interestingly and relatedly, at a Peer Power event it was argued young people in the care and justice systems have often suffered numerous losses in their lives, for example, bereavement of family or friends, loss of identity, and loss of previous role models in their lives. Peer Power argued that the antidote for trauma is empathy and a secure trusted relationship - it is relational care that heals relational trauma.
Sean Creaney is an advisor at social justice charity Peer Power