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'We need to Talk About Masculinity’ – a Collaboration between Aldridge School, Catcher Media and Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust.

We Need To Talk About Masculinity is a unique collaboration between Aldridge School students working with a media company, Catcher Media, and the Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust. Students helped to devise and acted in a hard-hitting drama about healthy and so-called ’toxic’ masculinity. It’s a highly relatable story set in the school and filmed over three days.

“The students worked very hard. It was their first time acting on camera, and even though they had to act in some emotional scenes, do things over and over and hit their marks, I think they really loved it and gained a lot from the experience!” Kirsty Irving, Head of Drama, Aldridge School.

The film, which premieres at the school on Thursday March 21st, is presented like a true-crime documentary: a series of characters talk about an incident in school between Max and Sophie. Max is persuaded to ask Sophie out on a date. When she rejects him, Sophie's friends start spreading rumours. Spurred on by bad advice and skewed social media content, Max bombards Sophie with texts and then confronts her, angrily. Luckily a teacher, Mr Timms, intervenes. Max sees the error of his ways and the film ends with Max and Sophie sharing their experiences to the film crew.

“Great work! This will be a great resource to get our young people reflecting and talking about masculinity." Kelly Adcock from Harmful Sexual Behaviour Team, Walsall Council.

"I feel so proud to be part of this resource, the young people are amazing. It bought tears to my eyes it really did." Carol Harris from Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust.

The key incident and other people’s responses to it helps viewers think about and discuss healthy masculinity. The film highlights the importance of communication, not bottling up emotion (especially when it comes to rejection and shame), emotional resilience, getting good advice from people you trust (and being aware that not everyone gives good advice), the careful use of social media, and respect for others and one’s self.

In a light touch way that translates well to our age group (from say, 12-16 years of age), while not pulling any punches, the film showcases the spiralling circumstances that can lead to verbal and physical harassment, physical and cyber-stalking. Importantly, especially in the school setting, it also shows that personal and group responsibility have a vital part to play in nurturing healthy masculinity. We see how people around the two central characters – friends, teachers, older siblings, step-father – affect their decision-making and their actions.

"Its a great resource!! Very impressive, it allows for lots of different avenues of discussion and debate for pupils to follow as led by a professional from various different agencies involved with that age group. I could imagine the film being used all over the country in schools for PSHE lessons and debates in tutor time etc. Very thought provoking generally!" Richard Knight (Headteacher) from Amberleigh Therapeutic School, Welshpool.

The full film is available FREE for all Walsall schools and health workers on:

Watch the trailer NOW: