The Man Den is an intergenerational mentoring project, using the power of play to provide a safe and nurturing environment for young boys.
“More young people are joining gangs, after years of cuts to youth services”, founder of The Man Den and Leytonstone resident, Kirsty Jones explains. “While people will get involved in gangs for several reasons, for many it’s about filling a void that may be left by the absence of a paternal figurehead, as well as fear of violence and isolation”.
In response, Kirsty set up The Man Den to offer a mentoring service with a difference. Here, older generations model strong values and support the younger generations, while also teaching the principles of numeracy, literacy and strategy through playing board games.
“Playing games is a means to break the ice and subtly teach important life and interpersonal skills,” says Kirsty. “We would love to run more sessions across the borough, developing a strong sense of brotherhood in the wider community. We also want to create workshops and provide opportunities for our younger members to reduce social isolation, build strong networks among our mentors and begin to run more sessions for girls and women too”.
Looking forward, The Man Den is keen to add more volunteer ‘MENtors’, so that the initiative can reach even more young people in the London Borough of Waltham Forest.