A perceived silent crisis amongst boys and young men is to be debated in an open community meeting organised by Oswestry football club charity, The New Saints FC Foundation.

The free community event – Generation Lost Boys – will be held at Oswestry Memorial Hall on March 12. It will bring together a panel of experts to discuss what more can be done to support young people and particularly boys and young men in the area.

Gill Jones of the The New Saints FC Foundation explained that the idea for the event had originally come out of a ten week pilot programme delivered by the foundation in 2023 which aimed to demonstrate the potential impact of sport-based interventions as a diversionary tool to prevent crime and anti-social behaviour.

She said that the young people who took part clearly benefitted  from an approach which developed supportive and empowering relationships focused on helping the young people fulfil their potential and making positive contributions to society.

“Our participation in this programme highlighted the fact that there appear to be more and more young men and boys who are seemingly disengaged, losing interest in school or feeling alienated from the communities they live in.

“We are not the experts, but we have a role to play, and we felt it was time to start a conversation with the leading voices in our community about the challenges facing young men and boys and what more can be done to support all of the young people of our town within limited financial resources,” she said.

The panel will include psychotherapist and fitness instructor Kevin Braddock who has written the book Everything Begins With Asking For Help: An Honest Guide to Depression & Anxiety. He is co-founder with Jo Hazell-Watkins of The Soma Space in Oswestry which offers physical movement sessions to improve mental health.

Kevin held an event covering similar issues – Walk, Breathe and Talk – recently at The Soma Space in the Memorial Hall.

“Men’s mental health isn’t really talked about enough. The more conversations we can have on these issues, the better for all parts of our community,” said Kevin.

Also on the panel for The New Saints FC Foundation community debate will be Justine Holdsworth of The Marches School and Helena Williams, Youth Support Team Manager at Shropshire Council plus other specialists to be confirmed.

Gill Jones said that the foundation would value the support of the community in launching a conversation on the issue.

“The event is open to everyone across our community from parents and teachers to those who are part of the community sector and employers. This is an issue that will affect all aspects of our community, so we must all take responsibility for finding solutions.

“Our question is why and what can we do as a community to ensure everyone feels valued and supported. If we do not start to ask these questions now, we will be facing a greater problem in the future. But we need many voices to make this happen,” she said.

The organisers have highlighted some of the themes which could be debated in the forum event including conflicting role models, the role of social media, how young men view their future and their definition of success.

“If you have anything that you would like to add to the conversation, please come along or you can send in your thoughts before the event for discussion to info@tnsfcfoundation.co.uk,” said Gill.

Pictured: Psychotherapist and author Kevin Braddock who will be one of the panel members at the community meeting on March 12.