My name is Luke Newman and I am the founder and director of ‘For Men To Talk’. On 3 August 2021, it marked the one-year anniversary of myself making it a Community Interest Company (CIC), but not the one-year anniversary of it being founded.
‘For Men To Talk’ is a social enterprise, meaning that as a business it wants to change the world for the better.
A community interest company was introduced by the United Kingdom government in 2005 under the Companies Act 2004. It’s designed for social enterprises that want to use their profits and assets for the public good.
As a ‘CIC’, that’s what I’m trying to do. I’m trying to give a platform for men to talk about how they are feeling and trying to make it normal to do so.
In late December 2019, I set up ‘For Men To Talk’ just as a Facebook group giving men who are suffering with anxiety, depression and grief a chance to talk with other fellow sufferers and improve their well-being. At that point I never thought about making it into a business, let alone a Community Interest Company, I didn’t even know what that was!
It wasn’t until I met an incredible magician, Lee Smith, and Ryan Ferrara, who is a director (and eye-candy) of Snuggeries, who create the most beautiful garden rooms, at a networking meeting. They suggested speaking to Alex Hughes as they believed ‘For Men To Talk’ could become a business.
Alex is the Founder & CEO of Shifties, based in St.Neots in Cambridgeshire. Shifties is a community for UK micro-business owners to connect, learn and grow together. The group helps support independent business growth with opportunities to network, learn and challenge themselves.
After contacting Alex, he could see that ‘For Men To Talk’ could become a social enterprise business and make it either a charity or community interest company. But the question was, which one?
The Charity Commission prefers a completely independent, all-volunteer board of trustees and if those trustees aren’t happy with my performance, they can remove me as the director and from ‘For Men To Talk’ completely. Even though I have confidence in my own ability, I couldn’t risk losing something that I had worked so unbelievably hard to build.
So there it was, I formed a CIC and as the founder I can be on the board so that I can maintain control of my creation. Six months later, I added James Dunn, Ian Payne, Justin Leigh and later Steve Whitney as Non-Executive Directors and placed them on the ‘Board of Directors’.
This is to support myself and fulfil our commitment to be a benefit to the community, with a particular focus on supporting men’s mental health. Adding these gentlemen to the board will help fulfil that objective.
As we now start the second year as a Community Interest Company, my pledge is to continue hosting physical and virtual meetings to allow men to talk about how they are feeling and also highlighting the need for children to be able to be talk openly. This will be through schools and also through ‘The Mental Health Moles’ book which I have designed and written, which details many mental health illnesses, which could help them recognise their symptoms.
To continue and obtain my pledge, the next stage will be looking and applying for grants, donations and other means of funding.