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New Heroes

The Caring Men of the Year – Pt.2


In Partnership with

LAB Series

In no particular order, here are men who are showing a new ideal of caring. To care. To give a damn. What a great way to be...

11. Loyle Carner

Carner this year released the excellent album ‘Not Waving, But Drowning’ in which he explored his own vulnerabilities and insecurities, but also talked in the media about his ADHD, the importance of the women who raised him, and essentially put himself forward as a voice of alternate versions of being a rap star, and a man. He also recently worked on an ‘urban greening’ regeneration project in south London, aiming to make the capital a greener, happier place. Most pertinently for this list he said of the reaction to his open hearted music, “I didn’t think it was abnormal…it shows the time that we’re living through where, you know, it’s like a big deal when a young man talks about how they feel, when it shouldn’t be.”

12. James Mace

James is a barber extraordinaire from Gould Barbers who came to our attention through his ambassador work for Movember. James uses his position to encourage men to talk about the problems they may be facing, both mental and physical, aiming to encourage a new openness. As he said at one of our events, “Men have to talk to me – I have a razor blade at their throat.” One of those highly effective heroes of the ‘time out’ moments in life, when behaviour can be considered, laughs can be sought and lives can be changed.

13. Ian (and Tammy) Smith

This Cardiff couple behind HOPE (Helping Open People’s Eyes) are just one of a number of inspirational groups trying to tackle the huge homeless problem in Wales in real, practical ways. Ian and Tammy proved particularly ingenious by commissioning a double-decker bus to be converted into a mobile night shelter for people in wales. It features 12 beds, two showers, two toilets, a kitchen and a lounge. A hell of way to both raise awareness of the homeless problem and supply real care to those that need it.


14. Jake Graf

An exemplary role model with a style of positive activism that brings both understanding and dignity amidst the social media mudslinging. Jake and his wife Hannah – now expecting their first child – are far more than a ‘trans power couple’, they go beyond that just being the kind of couple we should all aspire to have: a kind, loving one.


Jake Graf by Paul Grace
15. Aaron Gillies

Better known on Twitter as Technically Ron, Aaron is a comedian and author whose funny and dark and darkly funny comments on living with anxiety makes him both constantly entertaining and vital in today’s discussions around mental health. He is an ambassador for suicide prevention charity CALM, and the podcast he does for them with Lauren Pattison – ‘Conversations Against Living Miserably’ – is brilliant in the way it raises important issues about today’s stressful times while still managing to be funny. Aaron lays his humanity bare.

16. Hezron Brown

Hezron is a youth worker and motivational speaker from Birmingham who is a leading light in dealing with gang culture. Hezron had a troubled upbringing who, after a period of homelessness when he was 13, became involved in a gang. After getting a criminal record and encountering knife crime, he sought to escape that world and instead work at supporting young people from difficult backgrounds and to provide an example for them. By mentoring youths he can guide them away from crime and change their mindset about their futures. This year he won a Pride of Britain Award and established himself as a key voice in solutions to youth crime.

17. Stewart Roberts

The founder of Haircuts4Homeless, a community of hairdressers who give a few hours each month to give haircuts to homeless people. Stewart took note of various hairdressers around the world who do such things, and made it into this community set up to give it added power and reach. Homeless people face many challenges and significant among them is self-esteem, which a haircut can begin to tackle, alongside of course, a chance to talk. It’s the actions of people like Stewart that make for a society we can be proud of.

18. Stormzy

The best kind of role model for young men, this is a guy who deals in honesty. Whether that’s messages in his music about the harsh realities of life, and the less than harsh realities of fame, or taking down Michael Gove on Twitter, you don’t get compromise – the man cares too much to fudge anything. It’s shown in his Merky Books imprint, and it was shown in his Glastonbury headline set which felt like an takeover of the national psyche, in the best possible way…what a human to emulate.

19. Alex Holmes

Alex is a cult hero for those in the know, the kind of person who gets on with changing the world while the rest of us bellow that it should change for us. Alex is the Deputy CEO of The Diana Award and the man behind the Ant-Bullying Ambassadors initiative – both of these things are helping to create environments for a new generation of young people which are more inclusive, supportive and conducive to happy existences. Alex works at advising companies like Facebook and Twitter on making sure young people are safe online, as part of the Royal Foundation Taskforce on the Prevention of Cyberbullying and every day seeks ways to implement measures to ensure kinder and more compassionate communities wherever people grow up. Amazing person.

Alex Holmes
20. Derek Owusu

A poet who’s recent novel-poem ‘That Reminds Me’ is the most remarkable book you’ll read this year and next. Derek’s a man who puts his life out there for all to see, talking about his borderline personality disorder, issues like self-harm and the realities of going through the mental health system. He does it because he wants to de-stigmatise these issues, create better support networks for people, and to help people understand themselves. Threading through this is a love of literature and a determination to get people reading – that alone, is an inspirational life-changer.

Derek Owusu

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21. Luke Ambler

The founder of Andy’s Man Club, and an entrepreneur and business leader in his own right, Luke is that lovely and appreciated thing: a big man with a big heart. From his mindfulness journal for kids – Bee You – to his ‘Real and Raw’ podcast, as well as his ongoing promotion of Andy’s Man Club as a vital support group for men struggling with their mental health around the country, Luke shows how much he cares with an endless stream of ideas and activities to engage and excite people and cut right to the heart of issues that hold many of us back. Keep on going, that man…

Andy's Man Club

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