Stephen Fitzgerald Hon.Patron ManKind Initiative is the Founder of Men & Women Working Together (MWWT).
- Stephen Fitzgerald, Robert Whiston and Mark Fletcher co-founded ManKind in November 1999 and were its first Directors. It took Robert two years to obtain Charitable status in November 2001 and the ManKind Initiative came into being.
- We were focussed on Family Law Reform but as a constant stream of men came forward suffering from domestic abuse we soon branched out into Domestic Abuse.
- Stephen set up a Pilot Line and box number in his own home in 2000/2001. He developed a questionnaire which gathered in the whole range of abuses including coercion/controlling and the effects on children.
- In 2002 Stephen ran a volunteer training course in the Sunflower Centre in Northants for around 12 volunteers. Anne Harris managed a transferable 0870 National Helpline and organised a rota for the volunteers. The number was promoted via 1,000’s of leaflets offering advice and support for male victims of domestic abuse including the 0870 number. These were sent to many social agencies on request.
- We engaged in talks to forums, TV and radio interviews, we raised awareness of domestic abuse by training sessions with social workers and police. We submitted responses to Home Office Social Surveys.
- In 2003 the National Office was set up in Taunton which was funded entirely by membership subscription.
- In February 2006 MankInd obtained a 2 year grant of £30,000 from the Tudor Trust to finance a Domestic Abuse Helpline in the National Office. They now had a properly funded National Helpline and throughout this time gained access to Refuges in Somerset, Dorset, the Midlands and Mid-Wales.
In summary throughout this period we realised that the true measure of discrimination against men and their children extended from custody issues into domestic abuse.
The establishment was determined that domestic abuse would remain a gender issue even to the extent of denying the children of abused men the help they need. “Gender neutral” laws were passed in order to comply with social inclusion and human rights. These have all been meaningless without the funding and infrastructure for men and their children to support these laws. Stephen left the ManKind Initiative in 2007 and in due course Mark Brooks OBE took over and whose safe pair of hands has built on the foundation left behind.
Stephen will bring this experience into MWWT.