This week Soho celebrated International Men’s Day with an exclusive Soho Speaks Out panel discussion with some of Soho’s leading influential and inspirational men.
The talk, hosted by Can We Just Ask founders, podcasters and social media influencers, Annie Clarke and Will Clempner, marks the beginning of a quest to provoke conversations, conversations that matter.
In support of Soho-based charity, Samaritans, who provide emotional support to those in distress or at risk of suicide, Soho Speaks Out addresses the International Men’s Day themes; “Making a difference for Men and Boys” and “How can we give Men and Boys better life chances?” Panellists discussed challenges in their careers and the wider struggles for men and boys in society, as well as the opportunities available across various industries.
I have ample respect for the gang that assembled on a freezing night, but, I’ll admit that I may have, unintentionally, played favourites…
Mark Powell was one of the first fashion designers to revolutionise traditional tailoring and fuse it with contemporary street style. Positioned in Soho since 1985, Powell has grown and embraced the now normal of constant evolution in fashion as well as opened up about the barriers and benefits he faces as a man working in the fashion industry.
I’ll unashamedly admit that the speaker to inspire me the most was head honcho of House of St Barnabas, Brian Beaton. I am a longtime and active champion of projects that support and, dare I say, make a difference to the homeless and vulnerable community that live in my local area. Brian spoke unvarnished about the tireless work of the renowned Soho sanctuary, HoSB and the charity’s challenges as it aims to break the cycle of homelessness, as well the opportunities it can provide.
As I caught up with a few people after the talk, the fact that a “girl journalist” was writing about the event was somewhat amusing to some which, considering the experiences just shared, was disappointing, no, infuriating. The reflex action of anyone who identifies or has experience with a confrontational issue is to avoid and deflect and, given the mixed reactions of the other attendees, the event did exactly what it was hoping to do. It produced a reaction, it sparked debate and, for a little while at least, offer up a door for anyone, anytime to knock on.