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Fighting with men in mind

Lisa King

Fighting with men in mind

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SOREN HOLM moved to Barbados two years ago and brought with him a classic charity event that puts men at the forefront of raising funds to support men’s health.
Holm, who works at Shell Western Supply & Trading, initiated the Movember Campaign which calls for men to grow a moustache for the month of November and raise awareness about male health issues, specifically cancer.
Holm said that while attending a company function in London about half a year before he moved to Barbados, he saw the Movember Campaign in action.
“There a group of males wore moustaches looking like 1970s disco stars and it wasn’t until a couple of hours later that someone told me that they were a part of the campaign, and I thought it was a great gimmick,” Holm said.
The Movember Campaign started in 2004 in Australia, with the aim of raising vital funds and awareness on men’s health, in particular prostate cancer and depression in men.
Each man grows his moustache from November 1 to November 30 and it must be kept neat and groomed until the end of the month, when there is a grand day of celebration. All moustaches are then shaved off, and the sponsorship funds collected.
Holm said that the moustache becomes a great starter for talking about a very “heavy” topic such as cancer.
He said: “In order to get people to talk about cancer, you need to keep it a bit light and preferably with a little bit of humour because it actually sticks to people’s minds much better.
“It’s a survival mechanism that if it is something connected with bad thoughts, we tend to forget the bad things and remember the good.”
He recalled a visit to a barber.
“He did not know me and he was wondering what I was doing with a moustache. I said this is not how I look normally, and we really got into it and I talked to him about Movember and ever since, that is what we talk about and it is quite fun. That is not just a one-off – it happens a lot,” Holm said.
“People will recognize that you have a moustache and they will comment on it,” he continued.
“It is almost like they feel it is their right to ask and it is great because you don’t even have to open up on why you are doing it . . . It brings the message across because people talk in the office and they bring that talk home to the dinner table.”
He has managed to encourage his co-workers to join the campaign and grow their beards. Additionally, management has shown support for the last two years by doubling the funds raised by the team.
Holm has made two donations to the Barbados Cancer Society. He explained that even though Movember is about men’s health, the topic of cancer holds some sentiment.  
“The cancer aspect has been fairly close to me in the last three years. It is something that if it does not hit us personally . . . everybody hears, sees and has someone near them that is getting struck. Whether it is fatal or not, it is an issue we all have to deal with at some point.
“I have been fairly close to it . . . The last year alone has been fairly bad, and a couple years back my mum had cancer,” Holm said.
However, he is very dedicated to making sure the funds stay in Barbados.
“It does not undermine all the other good causes, like starving children in Africa. It can be very heartening to see that your donation is actually having an effect, and I think that is super motivating here . . . . It is so close that we can see where the money goes,” he said.