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13 June 2022
Steve Archibald, left, Major Lyn Jones, and Just Men co-facilitator Stefan Woroglian.
Creating a safe space for men in Perth
Something sacred happens when men talk about real-life struggles and victories. The Salvation Army in Perth is giving men this opportunity every fortnight when a group called ‘Just Men’ gathers at The Third Place in suburban Subiaco.
Led by The Third Place Mission Leader Major Lyn Jones and facilitator Steve Archibald, the group gathers and talks about mental health, addiction, relationship breakdown and more.
“I’ve struggled with mental health for three to four years, and I was fortunate to find support groups that helped me to process what was going on,” shares Steve, who is also Partnerships Manager for a youth mental health charity called zero2hero. “Coming out of that and knowing it had helped me, [Just Men] was something I wanted to do.”
Every second Tuesday, Lyn sets up the hall, and Steve gathers with a group of six to 10 men. Sitting in a circle, they take turns and talk about their lives.
“They share about a new job; not communicating well with their partner; about struggling with friendships in social circles; drinking too much,” Steve said. “Lyn helps out by providing coffee and cake, and we sit down and informally process what we’ve discussed.”
As a recruitment manager and speaker, Steve first encountered The Third Place several years ago when he met Lyn through a mutual friend. He became an advisory member on The Third Place board and, in conversation, brought up his eagerness to start a men’s group. Straight away, Lyn knew they had the space to fill the need. She also sees its potential as a faith pathway – and that’s where fellowship over a slice of cake plays such a vital role.
“God has opened up opportunities for me to talk to most of the guys because I serve them tea and coffee and cake at the end of their session,” explains Lyn. “They ask questions like, ‘How do you survive? How do you get through?’ So, I tell them it’s all about a relationship with God.”
The beauty of Just Men and its partnership with the Salvos is that participants can holistically take stock of every area of their lives. When faith and spirituality inevitably come up in conversation, Lyn can share her life experience with the men. And irrespective of what they believe, the key is to build authentic relationships with them, just like Jesus did while on the earth.
“This is the way that we do it because most people won’t just walk into a church service anymore. [Just Men] is a way of connecting with where they are at, which is a very vulnerable place because [culturally men] are not used to sharing how they are feeling,” Lyn said.
Still in its early days, Just Men can only grow and flourish from here. For Lyn, this means praying that male Salvos feel comfortable joining the group and sharing their lived experiences.
As for Steve, he is pouring all his energy into giving these men a safe space to belong.
“One of the biggest things that comes out of [Just Men] is that they recognise they are not alone in what they are dealing with,” he said. “There is a feeling that there’s camaraderie. Here’s a community of men that like to be able to get together and process [life] in a healthy way.”
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