The background to this book
Hearts of Men has been facilitating programmes and community-based interventions in the Western Cape for 14 years from 2001 to 2014. Our two key focus areas have been to close the generational communication gap between older men and young men and boys, as well as to actively engage with men in their roles as fathers to their own children, and as mentors to other young men.
We first developed a Manhood Mentoring community based programme, in which a group of older men (over 25 years) would go through an intensive and rigorous personal development and mentorship training, followed by a group of younger men (14 to 19 years) who would undergo training. The two groups would then enter into a mentorship agreement lasting a minimum of one year.
This model was then developed further to create a Fatherhood Mentoring programme based on the same principles. Older fathers would now mentor younger fathers within a community based setting.
Recently work has begun on the development of a Hearts of Women programme. The aim here has been to seek ways in which one can integrate men’s and women’s work, especially when it comes to strengthening the family.
Hearts of Men has delivered programme interventions in the following neighbourhoods and communities in the Western Cape province, (both urban and rural): Bonteheuwel (Netreg, Blue Gum and Kalksteenfontein), South Peninsula (Ottery East, Lotus River, Grassy Park, Kenilworth), Helderberg (Strand, Macassar, Sir Lowry’s Pass, Eerste Rivier), Overberg (Grabouw, Villiersdorp, Monteith Farms, Vyeboom farming community) and Langeberg (Bonnievale, Ashton, Robertson, Graham Beck Farms, Montagu).
Partnership programmes have also been facilitated in the Unicity of Cape Town (Warriors for Peace - Direct Action Centre, Ma’Afrika Tikkun, The Trauma Centre and the Medical Research Council). Hearts of Men community-based interventions have spanned periods of one year, three years, to 10 years.
Hearts of Men has had funding partnerships with local and provincial government departments, as well as the private sector and charitable foundations.
A shift in focus
Hearts of Men has been primarily a service delivery organisation. The advantage of this is that we have accumulated experience and knowledge, and we have developed effective tools and strategies.
For expansion purposes, we moved from an approach whereby Hearts of Men staff facilitated programmes within their own communities, to a funder driven approach whereby staff had to be deployed to outside communities spread far and wide. This shift in approach was funder driven, dictated by a government department’s delivery agenda, a client’s specific need, or a funder’s brief.
Delivering these programmes has taken up all Hearts of Men resources, both financially and time-wise. Much energy has gone into contracting and managing staff, report writing, managing budgets, vehicles and equipment. The issue of programme sustainability, with length of contract and funding limits as determining factors, has also proved a huge challenge.
Very little to no energy was left for proper research, training, networking, strategic planning, programme and resources development and so forth.
Hearts of Men has had to face all the normal challenges one would expect in having to run an organisation. The pressures in coordinating a delivery team spread sometimes over three regions, working to outside determined deliverables, and staff having to travel regularly and be away from their homes and families, have been formidable.
Reflection, evaluation, research, resource development, training, strategising time has been missing in Hearts of Men.
At the end of 2013 Hearts of Men decided to shift its focus from programme delivery to resource development and training, in order to support other individuals, organisations and communities in taking up this work.
The focus of this book
Men’s issues and challenges are at this time gaining prominence on the national agenda. Domestic based violence, the crisis with prison overcrowding, violence, addiction and crime are all very much in the public debate. Absent fathers, marital breakdown and the effect this has on family relationships and children, is also receiving much attention.
After 14 years of practical field experience, it is now an appropriate time for Hearts of Men to share its methodology and approach in working with men and young men in a community setting. Publishing this book also fits with our shift in focus from delivery to resource development and training others.
This book attempts to answer several of the frequently asked questions:
Why do you focus on men and young men?
Do you leave women completely out of the picture?
What do you actually do with men?
How do you know if your programmes actually make any difference?
How do you select and recruit men into your programmes?
Can anything be done to break the cycle of violence?
Surely you have to change the circumstances first, before you can expect to see individuals change?
Who is this book for?
This book is intended as a resource for anyone working with young people in challenging circumstances. Many say that all young people today are at risk: as moving from childhood, through teenage-hood to adulthood, is a journey full of challenges, risks and dangers.
This book is also aimed at those who are already working with, or intending to work with men and young men, especially with the aim of setting up community-based mentorship support programmes.
This book will hopefully be useful to those working with families, in the hope of strengthening relationships and parenting, and also to those working within community building and safety initiatives.
We hope this work will also be of practical benefit to those studying social work, community and youth development, psychology and gender studies.
We also hope this work will be received as a contribution in our combined struggle to bring about a better and safer world for women and children, and indeed for men themselves. Turning men back towards their homes, their families and their children, nurturing a culture or respect and responsibility, is ultimately aimed at benefiting us all, both women and men.
Although this work focuses on working with men, a tremendous amount of the methodologies and structures described, can be applied and/or adapted to working with women, and establishing mentorship support programmes for young women.
How the book is structured
This book mirrors the structure of the human heart with its four different chambers. This book is structured into four parts with four chapters in each.
*In the first part of the book we focus on our core business; Why we do what we do; our focus on working with men and young men.
*In the second part we focus on what we do; the content of our work, our methodology, including training, mentoring and programme design.
*In the third part we focus on strengthening the work; working with women, families, communities and strategic partners.
*In the fourth and final part we focus on sustaining and developing the work; including working with facilitators, funders, leadership and evaluation.
*In the conclusion, we reflect on our key learning, the challenges we face, and possible future directions.
*There are a series of appendices at the back of the book which include: communities, schools and organisations with whom Hearts of Men has worked; Hearts of Men staff and key volunteers who have contributed to our work; special acknowledgements, a reading reference list, and finally Hearts of Men contact details.
This book is not a training manual. It aims to give a general overview, the broad brushstrokes, of our work.
For further detailed information and specific programme content, you would need to refer to the series of Hearts of Men training manuals: The Manhood Mentoring Programme; The Fatherhood Mentoring Programme; The Diversion Programme for Young Men. For professional reasons, these resources are generally only made available to those participating on a Hearts of Men training programme or course.
Apart from the chapters within each section of the book, we also share some stories, personal accounts and reflections from Hearts of Men facilitators, programme participants, partners and teachers, among others. These are spread throughout the book. For reasons of confidentiality, we don't attach specific names of individuals, organisations, schools, government departments or communities, to each of these contributions. All contributors are acknowledged at the back of the book.
The two authors Des van Niekerk and Nic Fine, are both founder members of Hearts of Men. Together, they have more than 60 years of experience in working with men and young men in community and institutional settings, as well as in facilitation, training, programme design and in managing interventions. Between them they have authored several training manuals and resources. Nic has served for many years as the Hearts of Men Chairperson, and currently serves on the Hearts of Men Board. Des has worked in a variety of capacities for Hearts of Men, most recently as the Hearts of Men Director.