Movember fever will once again sweep across Stirling, as this year’s ambassadors get ready to raise awareness of men’s mental health.
Armed with ideas, a passion for Movember and *some* facial hair, Robbie Wales and Rob Mathews spoke to Brig about their plans for the month ahead.
Who are your ambassadors?
The Movember ambassadors this year at the University of Stirling are Robbie Wales and Rob Mathews. Wales is a fourth-year PE teaching student while Mathews is a fourth-year sports studies student. Both play for Stirling University Men’s Rugby Club.
Wales is a returning ambassador, taking on the role in 2021 also. He said: “I feel as if I learned a lot from last year’s campaign, especially in terms of skills.
“I want to use this experience this year and to try and make it an even more successful campaign.”
Mathews is currently the Welfare Officer at the men’s rugby club. He is ready to embrace the campaign. He said: “It’s more than just a PR thing. It’s more than just talking about it.
“We want to share our stories, share teammate stories, and really challenge the conversations that we tend to not have on the pitch.
“[We want to] make sure that we’re all checking up on our mates, on our friends, and especially on those who may not be playing, may not be picked or may be injured.
“We need to make sure that we’re checking in and helping our mates out.”
For Mathews and Wales, men’s mental health is an extremely important subject, and the duo are working hard to get people talking Wales said: “I think being an ambassador is great because, Rob and I having experienced mental health difficulties ourselves, we’re now a lot better equipped in terms of recognising when people are acting out of character.”
What have they done so far?
One of the first things the pair have done is reach out to all the sports clubs to establish a point of contact. Wales said: “One of the key things that I struggled with last year was not having a direct point of contact within the sports clubs.
“So, we’ve counteracted that by assembling a team of liaisons from each club that will be the focal point for their sports club.”
The liaisons will act as a middleman between the clubs and ambassadors. Mathews said: “This is a community of individuals who tend to have a role on welfare within their clubs already.
“Whether that be welfare officers or the presidents themselves and who are now going to be our points of contact for the sports clubs.”
Additionally, Wales and Mathews have already hosted an event dubbed ‘sit scran and speak’ within the rugby club. The idea was to create an environment where members could get to know other members of the club better and encourage each other to share their feelings. Wales said: “It’s not the kind of stereotypical rugby chat.
“It’s not a Wednesday night going out for beers or anything like that. It’s all of us, sober.
“We’re all just enjoying a meal together and we have a dynamic where we have to speak to different people.”
Mathews quickly added: “It’s trying to create a deeper bond within the club. We are looking to encourage these sorts of talks and break that barrier.
“It’s making sure that you actually take the time to find out a bit of background about someone, learning more about your teammates and finding out deeper facts.
“It’s about creating a bond that’s more than just surface-level communications.”
What events are planned?
A major event the boys have planned is ‘inside out day’. This will take place on a Wednesday in November and will involve students across the campus wearing a piece of clothing inside out. Wales said: “Whether it’s your socks, your shorts, your skirts, your skirt, or your scrum cap – the pivotal message that we’re trying to get across is we’re trying to get what’s on the inside out. “
You may also notice the price of a coffee increase by 5p throughout the month. The ambassadors have worked hard with the Students’ Union and the other eateries across campus to sign them up. The extra 5p will go towards the Movember foundation.
Additionally, on November 23 a closing ceremony will take place at Stirling County Rugby Club. This “classy event” will give people the opportunity to dress up and is open to all University students. Tickets will be £10 with all proceeds going towards Movember. Mathews concluded: “It’s pivotal that everyone is on board.
“As we said, we’ve got our liaisons and our sports clubs. We’ve got Murray who’s doing excellent work as the sports president, and we’re trying to get everyone in the uni to spread the message so that it’s a whole community effort.”
They are also going to work with Bleed Green TV to conduct interviews and produce their own social media content, including their own spin on the TV game show Mr and Mrs – duly named ‘MoBro and MoBro’.
Sports clubs will also run their own fundraisers too. In 2020 the Stirling University Movember campaign raised over £30,000.
The pair made clear the goal of the campaign is to raise awareness as much as possible. When asked if they had any monetary targets this year Wales said: “Our main aim is just to raise awareness and whatever monetary gain comes out of that for the charity itself is just a positive.”
Matthews also played down a target number. He said: “First and foremost our goal is to raise awareness of men’s mental health and I think the money will come with that.
“Whether that means we pass last year’s total is a thing in itself, but our main aim is just to raise awareness and whatever monetary gain comes out of that for the charity itself is just a positive.”
Where can I find out more?
Both Wales and Mathews want to make sure that above all else the Movember message is clear. The Stirling Uni Movember page is open on Instagram and Facebook, and Wales and Mathews personal accounts are linked too. They said: “If you want to talk to us, we are available to talk and we’re here to help anyone in whatever format that may be.
“Whether that’s connecting you through to people or just being able to listen to you.”
Additionally, for those who want to get involved, Movember Conversations teach people the basics of reaching out to men who are going through a tough time. Mathews said: “It’s a great resource, it teaches you how to reach out, how to listen, and how to maybe understand someone who is undergoing mental health struggles at the moment.
“So, if you do have a spare 5 to 10 minutes either reach out to us and we’ll give you the link or just simply type in Mo-conversations and it might be able to help save a teammate or just help save a brother.”
More information on the Movember Foundation can be found on their website.
For the latest updates on the Movember campaign at Stirling, follow Stirling Uni Movember on Instagram.
Feature Image Credit: Stirling Uni Movember / Jonathan Boomer