Hastings & St. Leonards on-line community newspaper

Some of the Brothers

A Band of Brothers: reviewed by a sister

Sharon Rhodes champions the amazing work that A Band of Brothers have been doing for men’s mental health and well-being locally and nationally.

Brothers bonding

On Wednesday night I was invited to a viewing of a film at the Electric Palace Cinema about the charity A Band Of Brothers. I had heard about the work they have been doing with ex-offenders and those tied up in the criminal justice system, involved with drugs or domestic violence and other destructive behaviours. I had also heard about the impact they were having on men’s mental health. Being a mental health campaigner, I eagerly took up the invitation.

I arrived half an hour early and was greeted by Ben Cole the maker of the film about to be shown. He introduced me to a young man called Justin, mentioned he had been mentoring him and left us to chat whilst he continued to meet and greet. Justin mentioned during our brief chat that he was soon to go on his ‘quest’ and I was intrigued.

What I learned during the film has hit me so hard that I wanted to write about A Band of Brothers for Hastings Online Times.

The film featured 40 or so young men who told us how their lives have been turned around since being mentored by older male volunteer mentors in their community. There were some harrowing confessions of how dark life had been for them prior to being involved with ABOB. Suicide was mentioned many times with one poor soul admitting to over 20 attempts to take his own life. I knew men’s mental health was a hard to broach subject and that young men struggle to open up about their struggles but what I learned during this film has given me hope for the future. The statistics for male suicide are frighteningly high.

“No one ever asked why am I angry and then listened without judging me negatively, until I joined A Band Of Brothers”

Men account for 8 out of 10 people cautioned by the police, and nearly 9 out of 10 people found guilty for indictable offences are men. Men are responsible for 97% of burglary and 92% of violence against the person. 95% of the UK prison population is male and over 80% of homeless people in the UK are men. Tragically, men currently commit suicide at a rate of 13 per day in the UK (or 1 every 2 hours), a figure that’s three times higher than it is for women.

The film talks about the ‘Quest’ which is a three-day mission in nature where the participants exorcise their ‘demons’ and face the root causes to their learned destructive behaviour. ‘Rite of passage’ was mentioned along with follow-up support and weekly meetings on a Monday night. What actually happens during the Quest is not revealed in the film.

After the screening, about six or seven men came to the front to answer questions. Some were older mentors and some were the ones being mentored or had been in the past. By this time I was so moved I was in tears.

Hastings A Band of Brothers mentor Ben Cole in the foreground.

Successful statistics

ABOB’s work transforms the lives of young men and their communities, whilst saving the state (and ultimately the taxpayer) £40,000 a year for each avoided incarceration. Instead, they create well-rounded men who contribute back to society with healthy aspirations and a renewed sense of wellbeing.

‘I haven’t been arrested since joining A Band Of Brothers’

80% of participants either stop re-offending or report a much lower severity in their offending behaviour. 81% of participants showed an improvement in levels of self-esteem and self-worth which greatly improves their mental health. There is a 73% increase in participants finding employment, education or training. Paid employment rose from 7% to over 50%. 67% of young men were securely housed compared to only 40% before and the proportion of young men with severe addiction issues dropped from 51% to 14%. Over 80% of participants experienced less conflict. Violent responses to conflict fell from 71% to 14%!

ABOB is a registered charity and is funded by trusts. The quest and the ten-week mentor program is free and so is additional support where necessary. Becoming a mentor is also free although donations are gratefully received.

The power of listening

Looking for Mentors

Do you know someone in the community who needs a new path in their life? Perhaps you know an older man who has had success and would now like to give back to the community and guide others? They can go on a six week training programme and then complete the quest themselves ready to guide the young men they will mentor in the future. Or maybe you know of someone that could do with a mentor in their community and would benefit from the quest? Someone you have had concerns for that are lost in a life of destructive behaviour, violence, drugs or prison.

I too had a difficult childhood, now those experiences are so useful when mentoring a young man.  I want him to decide what kind of man he wants to be.
Ben Cole ABOB mentor in Hastings

Connecting men in need with men who mentor

A Band Of Brothers has a very informative website where you can find out more and Ben Cole who is a mentor here in Hastings is happy to answer any email questions you may have and enquiries about the mentor program or becoming a mentor.

‘It’s great for someone like me who has spent my life with foster parents to know there are so many men in Hastings that really care…’

Hastings has some amazing male role models including some influential men amongst our community. Hastings also has some men that could seriously benefit from going on the quest and being mentored. Let’s help them find each other please!

You can find out more about A Band of Brothers on their website and social media: Facebook, national Instagram and Hastings Instagram and Twitter.
You can also contact Stu Croll 07881 848965
or John Darling 07816 859728
or email

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Thank you for your continued support!

Posted 10:37 Sunday, Aug 15, 2021 In: Health Matters

Also in: Health Matters

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