by Michael Angerer
This, dear readers, would usually be the place to share with you some etymological musings on the word ‘spark’. Usually, we might inform you that according to the Oxford English Dictionary, it rather unremarkably derives from Old English spearca, meaning ‘a small particle of fire’; and that, more interestingly, it eventually also came to mean the ‘vital or animating principle in man’ in John Wycliffe’s 1382 Bible translation. But, exceptionally, this issue of The Poor Print is also dedicated to a bigger cause. The little spark of creativity that gives rise to this newspaper is supplemented by another vital or animating principle, which this month is our support for Movember: an annual event dedicated to changing the face of men’s health by, among other things, encouraging the growing of moustaches.
This admittedly rather incongruous concept arose, as the Movember Foundation tells us, when Travis Garone and Luke Slattery met for a beer in Melbourne in 2003. While discussing recent trends in male facial hair fashion, they decided to bring the moustache back; and, since this apparently was not eccentric enough, they designed the whole thing as a campaign about men’s health and prostate cancer. The Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia became the movement’s first official partner in 2005; in that year, 1.2 million AUD were raised and donated, and the Movember Foundation was established as an official charity in 2006. The campaign quickly branched out to also address men’s mental health issues, and many other issues were added over the following years. Currently, official Movember campaigns in 21 countries raise money for over 1,000 men’s health programmes. If you will allow the somewhat Dantean return to our theme: Poca favilla gran fiamma seconda; first a little spark, then a mighty flame.
Movember aims to fight a variety of threats to men’s health, and for each of these issues, very ambitious goals have been set. The fight against prostate cancer, of course, was the first goal of the campaign: it is, as the Movember Foundation tells us, the most common type of cancer in men in the UK. The goal for 2030 is to raise enough money to reduce the number of men dying from prostate cancer by 50%. But another type of cancer is equally at the focus: testicular cancer. Currently the most common type of cancer in young men, the Movember Foundation aims to halve its 5% mortality rate by 2030. Another major issue is suicide, which is disproportionately often committed by men. According to the BBC, the suicide figures are downright alarming in the UK, where men account for three quarters of suicides; men from the North East are particularly affected. By 2030, the Movember Foundation hopes to have reduced the male suicide rate by 25%.
In order to achieve its goals, Movember funds a gigantic number of projects – more than could ever be accounted for in an article of this length; we may, however, briefly outline a few of the projects that have, to date, received the most funding from Movember UK. There are, first, the Training and Fellowship Awards 2012-2015, which are designed to foster research into prostate cancer; they were funded with more than £4,200,000. Next in line, with over £2,500,000, is the Social Innovators Challenge: the public was invited to pitch innovative ideas on how to improve men’s social connections and feelings of belonging. The piloting phase has now been reached, and 13 teams are currently in the process of testing their projects. Further initiatives include a project to improve research management in the biomedical sciences as well as the Movember Foundation Awareness and Education Program (each funded with around £1,500,000). Movember takes its official slogan and statement of purpose, to change the face of men’s health, very seriously indeed.
But of course, this does not mean that very large donations are needed to contribute to Movember (although they are certainly very much appreciated). What makes Movember so successful is the large number of supporters (Movember Speak: ‘Mo Bros and Mo Sistas’) collecting modest (or slightly less modest) donations for the cause – all over the country, all over the world. And as it happens, you are in luck: Oriel has set up its own Movember team, captained by Mason Yousif. Have a look at the team website: it allows you to donate to individual members or to the team as a whole. There, you can provide your own little spark to light the bright beacon of Movember.
VISIT THE MOVEMBER TEAM WEBSITE AND DONATE
MORE INFORMATION ON MOVEMBER