CALM in 60 Seconds: Simon Howes

The Merseybeat goes on.

How long have you been with C.A.L.M Simon?
I’ve been with C.A.L.M for 4 ½ years. I’ve seen C.A.L.M change a lot and we’ve had ups and downs. But now loads of people know who we are and what we do, and we’ve got the local financial support we need. C.A.L.M is also expanding nationally and that’ll help further promote C.A.L.M on Merseyside.

And what’s an average day like working for C.A.L.M?
It’s a cliché, but no day is the same. I do everything from meeting health services to filming backstage at Creamfields. We promote C.A.L.M at music events; at colleges and Student Unions; at the moment, we’re getting involved with local Sunday League football and working with the Everton Tigers to promote C.A.L.M to basketball fans on Merseyside.

Have you got anything really big on the boil?
Yeah! C.A.L.M recently became the official charity partner for ‘Liverpool Sound City’, a massive music festival happening May 20th-23rd. It’s a big coup for C.A.L.M, last year 25,000 people attended and saw over 300 bands, including the likes of Santogold, Ladyhawke and The WOMBATS. It’s a great vehicle to spread C.A.L.M’s message. Check out the Liverpool Sound City website for further details.

“You can’t switch off completely from C.A.L.M. The challenge of being a strong male is relevant every second of the day”

Getting C.A.L.M involved must have taken a lot of hard work on your part. How does C.A.L.M fit in with the rest of your life?
Working for C.A.L.M is consuming but I try to draw clear boundaries. I set aside time to spend with my wife and my three boys. Sometimes, you’ve got to put it to the back of your mind. I’ve got to practise what I preach! I face the difficulties every man faces: to get on with your life – to have a job or pay the mortgage or whatever – and also express yourself. The challenge of being a strong male is relevant every second of the day.

So for you, what’s C.A.L.M all about?
It’s not about changing masculinity completely but suggesting that men can express their frustrations or emotions and still remain masculine. In some contexts, like when a footballer scores a goal, men are able to express exactly what they are feeling and share it with others. But in most contexts, they can’t. That’s crazy!

I hadn’t thought of it like that before. Think of the stuff men do when they score a goal!
Yeah… but expressing frustrations or emotions won’t be a complete change to what it means to be a man. It’s only a tweak in one small area – encouraging men to express themselves more often and share their feelings – but it could prevent men entering a downward spiral that ends in suicide.

A small change could make all the difference! So what are the future plans of C.A.L.M in Merseyside?
We need to evolve to stay fresh and relevant, so we’re looking to expand in different areas – music, sport, PR. Our biggest challenge is to reach out to men who might not go to big club nights or play in a football team supported by C.A.L.M. Reading our stats, these so-called ‘outlying areas’ suffer the most from self harm and suicide. We need to reach these areas, but it’s really difficult. I have to try and get to 190,000 young men on Merseyside – it ain’t easy!

If you’d like to find out more about anything you have read in this interview, want to get involved or make a suggestion, please get in touch by emailing Simon Howes.

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