Grimsby dock tower (image c/o of https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/5d/Grimsby_Dock_Tower.jpg)
According to Shortlist magazine, Grimsby is the worst place in the UK to be a man. Now, why they have declared it particularly bad for men, as opposed to women, never really becomes clear during the course of the article. Dig a little deeper on the site and Shortlist points out the criteria for its ‘Best places to be a man in Britain’, which includes crime rates and access to green spaces, but mostly seems to focus on social attributes, such as where is good for a night out. Their list of best places to live in Britain includes Glasgow, which in terms of mortality for men is a city which does not fair well (to put it kindly), the article does mention this, but asks readers not to spend too much time thinking about that: “plus men live for less time than the rest of the population too, a very low 69.3 years. But let’s not dwell”.
Why then does Grimsby fair so badly in their assessments? The East Marsh in Grimsby, an area of multiple deprivation has a mortality rate of 74 years, and the average for a men in North East Lincolnshire is in fact 77.9 years, so much closer to the national average for men of 79.2 than Glasgow. Grimsby undoubtedly faces economic challenges with the demise of the fishing industry, and the spotlight of so called ‘poverty porn’ such as ‘Skint’ brings further reputational challenges to the town. However there does appear to be other factors which are good for the wellbeing of men (and women) in Grimsby. For example, recently Grimbsy Town fans clubbed together and raised £100,000 in 8 weeks so their club could buy new players for the start of the season. That strikes me as a community pulling together for a common aim. We know that doing things for others is good for our wellbeing, so that’s got to be a point that Shortlist magazine may have overlooked about the folk of Grimbsy (or at least their football fans). Plus, Grimsby has a Danish food shop, and the Danes are the happiest people in the world, so even if happiness isn’t imported with the goods, it demonstrates something of the cultural variety that exists in Grimsby at least and connections with other places (connectedness being another way people can feel a greater sense of wellbeing). As is pointed out in this article Grimsby’s endless ridiculing does not help the fortune of the town. If it really is the worst place in the UK to be a man, should resources not be being directed towards this, rather than trying to convince others never to visit it (and support its economy and people)?
This isn’t entirely a post in defence of Grimsby (the people of Grimsby appear to have done that themselves in the comments of the article in question), but rather highlighting the need for a more nuanced discussion about the specific issues men may face within various villages, towns and cities across Britain. We know that there are lots of issues which men face, particularly in relation to health, including mental wellbeing, and no doubt Grimsby will experience many of those, as many areas of multiple deprivation across the country also do, including estates in many big cities, Manchester included (the city Shortlist declare to be the best in the UK). Perhaps a more honest conversation about the men’s health and wellbeing issues in various areas would be a productive way to begin to address such needs and asking men for their perspectives on such matters may be a fruitful place to begin those conversations.