about us

Jonathan Prince MBE

Chairman of the Blue Ribbon Foundation

Bringing a distinguished background as an internationally experienced chairman, not to mention an MBE awarded for his charity work with The Pink Ribbon Foundation Jonathan co-founded The Blue Ribbon Foundation as he was acutely aware that men, and at this point he includes himself, often don’t do health or wellbeing as well as our female counterparts.

 Away from the Foundation, Jonathan has experience in public, and private sectors and a long career in management consultancy.  Here he utilised his proven ability in making organisations more commercially robust and sustainable.
Bringing an ability to build and lead diverse teams and a leading global view in strategic business planning and implementing growth strategies.

Melvyn Lacey

Mel was a joint Founder Trustee with Jonathan Prince of the Blue Ribbon Foundation.

Mel retired in 2016 and is now proud to be a Patron for the
Blue Ribbon Foundation.

He says “Whilst our charity’s objectives relate to all male health issues, my personal battle with prostate cancer was the driving force behind my determination to get men talking more openly about health.

I cannot emphasise enough that doing this can be vital in the early detection and potentially successful treatment of many conditions”.

 

He asks that men use the Foundation’s website as the first step in their own healthcare research, and stresses that whichever direction the information takes you, that you should always remain positive. He also stresses that Men will learn that in a majority of cases, the worry is worse than the actuality.

Our Ambassador

Jonathan Prince, Chairman of the Blue Ribbon Foundation announced in early 2016 the appointment of former Charlton Athletic FC Commercial Director, Steve Sutherland as the Charity’s first ambassador.

Steve’s appointment is in recognition of the excellent contribution he has made to the foundation over the past 18 months. In particular, Steve has been responsible for instigating the Blue Ribbon Foundation’s newly established relationships in football. Firstly with the Charlton Athletic Community Trust (CACT), the UK’s largest football related charity which has seen the foundation working closely with CACT’s renowned health programme in the Royal Borough of Greenwich and secondly, this summer’s link with Ebbsfleet United FC which has seen the foundation become the Club’s ‘official health charity’. The Blue Ribbon Foundation, whose logo is now prominent on the ‘away’ shirt of the Ebbsfleet team, will be working closely with the club to play a meaningful role in the health of the local Gravesham community.

Jonathan said; “Mel Lacey, my fellow founding partner and I, greatly value the fantastic support we have received from Steve and in particular his role in helping us build two very exciting relationships in football. These are extremely important to the growth of the foundation as we know how impactful a football club can be at getting men talking and doing something about their health’’.

Jonathan continued, “As our first ambassador Steve will act as an advocate for the work of the Blue Ribbon Foundation and will use his expertise and extensive network of contacts to assist in the continued growth, development and success of the foundation. We are delighted to have him officially “on board” with us.

Steve said: “I am very proud to have been appointed as the Blue Ribbon Foundation’s first ambassador. I firmly believe that football and sport in general provides a fantastic opportunity for the charity to raise the awareness of men’s health issues. I’m very much looking forward to playing my part in the continuing success of the foundation’’.

For Further Information:

The Blue Ribbon Foundation: www.blueribbonfoundation.org.uk
Steve Sutherland: www.steve-sutherland.co.uk

 


Our Guiding Principles

Our contract with all the Foundations many supporters is also an important component of the way we operate. For many years it has tried to be different and as transparent as it possibly can.

It works to a series of guiding principles which are:

  • We will not sell your details on to any other organisation
  • We will never knock at your door asking for financial support
  • We will never annoy you in the streets
  • We will never send out requests and begging letters to you or to your company

However we will:

  • Thank you personally wherever possible for the financial or other help you have given us
  • We will give you friendly and accessible personal contact
  • Let you know where your money goes
  • Be transparent in our grant judging process and offer feedback if requested
  • Abide by the Charity Commission Rules

The Blue Ribbon Foundation has very little infrastructure. We work hard to keep our expenses to the minimum and wherever possible it relies on the hard work freely given by its many supporters. This is done in order to maximise the amount, which goes to mens’ health orientated charities that benefit from the funds you have raised.

Awareness and mens’ approach

Getting men talking about their health

In this article, Mel Lacey, one of the Blue Ribbon Foundation’s founders, talks about how men often fail to take care of themselves, and how the Blue Ribbon Foundation aims to change this culture.

It seems to be a sad fact of life that men, unlike women, are less willing to monitor their own health, take note of changes or potential problems and then discuss those issues with doctors or medical advisors. Perhaps there is a belief that if signs and symptoms are ignored, they will go away. Or maybe some consider it is not macho to keep bothering GPs about little aches, pains, lumps and bumps. This thought process can be worse if a man’s concerns are about his private parts and how they are working – or not working as the case may be. Ignoring developing problems in this area, as well as other parts of the body, can become very serious.

One example is prostate cancer.  “It’s ok, it is only prostate cancer, they can treat that very easily these days” is a common misconception. It is true that the treatments for this disease are improving all the time and, when caught early enough, the success rate is very good indeed – but we need to help more men to catch it early enough!

Every year in the UK, there are more than 40,000 men diagnosed with this particular disease, and more than 10,000 of men die from it. The sad thing is, many of those deaths could have been avoided – though prostate cancer can often have no symptoms, there are risk factors that men should be aware of, as outlined in our information pages.  Worse yet, men who do have symptoms and ignore pain in the genitals, peeing and erection problems, or passing blood in the urine may be dramatically shortening their lives.

There are many other conditions, both specific to men and more general, that men either do not know about, or fail to take action on.  While many men look after their health and wellbeing, there are many of us who ignore established health wisdom about eating healthily, not drinking too much, and staying active, leaving ourselves open to a myriad of conditions including heart disease, stroke and cancers.

Don’t believe me?  Check out these important, but worrying male health facts:

  • Men are much more likely to die for potentially avoidable causes than woman – for example, 28% of men die from avoidable conditions like heart disease compared with 17% of women in England and Wales
  • Coronary heart disease kills far more men than women (1 in 6 men, compared with 1 in 10 women), and on average men develop it 7-10 years earlier.
  • One-third of men in England do not achieve recommended levels of physical activity.
  • Men are more likely than women to drink alcohol above recommended levels, smoke cigarettes and eat a poor diet.  More than a third of men drink over the recommended alcohol limit.
  • The proportion of men who are overweight (including obese) is 65% in England, compared to 58% of women.  Just under a quarter of men are obese, which is associated with a whole range of health problems.
  • Men visit their GP far less frequently than women – some research suggests men go only half as often as women.

All of these problems can be improved!

We feel the solution is two-fold – raising men’s awareness of health conditions, risks and symptoms, and encouraging them to take positive action about them. Working with other charities and providing links to their sources of information, we aim to make the Blue Ribbon a rallying point for male health problems and a first step for men to get the positive push they need!

So, come on men, women, wives, partners, family and friends, we are all in this together! Let’s all do our bit to improve these statistics. Ignoring any health concerns of any individual, male or female, can have a devastating effect on lots of people. Burying heads in the sand and hoping things will improve by themselves is not an option!

Male Health Information

Below we outline a range of common but serious health conditions which can affect men.  We urge you to go speak to a doctor if you are worried about your health, or if you have some of the symptoms mentioned below.  You can find you local doctor via the links below, depending on where you live in the UK:

EnglandNHS Choices

Scotland NHS24

WalesNHSDirect Wales

Northern IrelandNIDirect

Please note our disclaimer below.

 

Cancer

Cancer is a term used for diseases where there is an uncontrolled division of abnormal cells in a part of the body.  Cancer cells can then prevent the operation of that part of the body, as well as spread to other organs.  There is a wide range of cancers which can affect men, and some of the prominent are included below.

Bladder Cancer

Each year about 10,400 people in the UK are diagnosed with bladder cancer, which is the 4th most common cancer in men in the UK.  Smoking is one of the most common causes of bladder cancer, and this cancer is more likely to occur in later life.

Symptoms may include blood in the urine, the need to pass urine more often and occasionally abdominal pain (in the tummy or lower back).  As with many other cancers, early diagnosis is key in increasing your chances of survival; 80 – 90% of men who have their bladder cancer diagnosed at an early stage live for more than 5 years.

If you are worried or are exhibiting any of these symptoms, then go to the doctor for a check up.

For further information on bladder cancer visit:

Cancer Research UK

NHS Choices

Macmillan Cancer Support

Fight Bladder Cancer 

Lung Cancer

Lung cancer is the second most common cancer for men in the UK.  Around 24,000 new cases are diagnosed each year in men.

It is known that smokers and ex-smokers have a particularly high risk of developing the disease.  8 in 10 cases of lung cancer are caused by smoking. However, there are other factors that increase the risk of developing lung cancer disease, for example, exposure to chemicals found in specific workplaces or environments, such as asbestos, radon gas, and diesel exhaust fumes.

Symptoms may include a cough that doesn’t go away, a long standing cough getting worse, unexplained breathlessness, chest infections, coughing blood, unexplained weight loss, chest and/or shoulder pains, an unexplained tiredness or lack of energy.  In the case of any of these symptoms, or if you are worried about your risk, do speak to your doctor, or find out more information from the sources below.

For more information visit:

Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation

British Lung Foundation

NHS Choices

Cancer Research UK

Pancreatic Cancer

Pancreatic cancer is the 10th most common cancer in the UK, and is slightly more prevalent in men than woman.  Pancreatic cancer (cancer of the pancreas, which is based in your upper abdomen) doesn’t usually give rise to any symptoms or signs in the early stages. This means it can be very difficult to detect and diagnose; however, catching the cancer early can greatly increase the chances of survival. As the cancer grows the symptoms it causes will depend on the type of pancreatic cancer and where it is in the pancreas.  Example symptoms are abdominal pain, jaundice, weight loss and possibly bowel problems, nausea and vomiting.

Smoking is the only fully confirmed risk for pancreatic cancer, but the risk of developing pancreatic cancer increases with age, and higher risk has been associated with obesity.

As with other cancers, if you are concerned or want simply to have yourself checked, go to see your doctor.

For more information visit:

Pancreatic Cancer UK

NHS Choices

Macmillan Cancer Support

Cancer Research UK

Prostate Cancer

Your prostate is a gland that lies underneath the bladder, and surrounds the tube (the urethra) that men pass urine and semen through.  Only men have a prostate.  Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men in the UK.  There are over 47,000 new cases every year in the UK, and more than 10,800 men per year die from the condition.  1 in 8 men will get prostate cancer at some point in their lives.

In terms of risk, older men, men with a family history of prostate cancer, and black men are more at risk than others.  Often there can be no symptoms until the cancer has spread, so it is vital to both go for regular check-ups particularly when you are over 50, as well as go to the doctor if you experience any symptoms. Possible symptoms may include a weak or reduced urine flow, a need to urinate frequently, difficulty or pain when passing urine, pain in the testicles, or blood in the urine or semen. However, there are a number of benign (i.e. non-cancer) conditions of the prostate which can cause similar symptoms, so it is important to talk to a professional.

For more information about prostate cancer, visit:

Prostate Cancer UK

NHS Choices

Tackle Prostate Cancer 

Testicular Cancer

Testicular cancer – cancer of the testicles – is fortunately quite rare.  In the UK, about 2,200 men are diagnosed with testicular cancer every year. It is most commonly found in the age range 15 to 45. Treatments are usually successful with survival rates at 96%, but early diagnosis is key.

There are few known strong risk factors for testicular cancer.  However, there is some research which suggests that men with a family genetic history of testicular cancer may be more at risk.  Likewise, Caucasian men, men with HIV and men with fertility problems may be more likely to develop testicular cancer.

The most common symptom of testicular cancer is a painless lump or swelling in the testicles.  Other symptoms can include a dull ache or heaviness in the scrotum (the sac of skin that contains the testicles).

Men with concerns about their testicles should see their doctor as soon as possible and discuss all the facts and symptoms.  Early diagnosis increases the likelihood of successful treatment.

For more information, please see:

Orchid -Fighting Male Cancer

NHS Choices

Macmillan Cancer Support

Cancer Research UK

 

Diabetes

It is estimated that 3.2 million people in the UK have been diagnosed with diabetes,  and around 630,000 people are thought to be living with the condition without knowing it.  These figures are projected to grow rapidly.  Diabetes is more commonly found in men than women.

Diabetes occurs when the body is unable to break down glucose into energy because:

(a)  the body is not producing insulin, the hormone responsible for controlling the sugar in the blood (Type 1 diabetes, also known as insulin-dependent diabetes)

(b)  the body produces too little insulin, or the insulin fails to work properly (Type 2 diabetes)

10 per cent of people with diabetes in the UK have Type 1.  This usually develops before the age of 40 and will often develop during the teenage years.  As the cause of Type 1 diabetes is currently uncertain, it is not preventable.  Sufferers will normally be required to inject insulin on a daily basis and must be careful to monitor their glucose levels.

Type 2 diabetes is far more common.  90 per cent of people with diabetes in the UK have Type 2 diabetes.  You can reduce your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes by managing your weight, eating well and being active, and more details on best ways to do that are available from the links below.  If you have been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, depending on severity of the condition, regular exercise and a healthy diet can sometimes be all that is needed to maintain good health.  However, as it is a progressive condition, sufferers may eventually require medication to control blood glucose levels. If you are diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, you should receive support from medical professionals and dieticians who can give dietary advice.

Common signs that you may have diabetes are feeling very thirsty, needing to go to the toilet more frequently than usual (especially at night), extreme tiredness and weight loss. Other symptoms for men include blurred vision, itching around the genitals, and slow healing of cuts and wounds. The problem with Type 2 diabetes is that the symptoms can begin as less pronounced than Type 1, so they can easily be missed.

For more information on diabetes, check out these sites:

Diabetes UK

NHS Choices

JDRF (focuses on Type 1 diabetes)

Diabetes Research and Wellness Foundation

 

Heart Disease

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in men over the UK.  Specifically, about 1 in 6 men die from coronary heart disease every year, so it is vital for men to consider how they can keep their heart healthy.

There are a range of heart conditions, including coronary heart disease, angina, heart attack and abnormal heart rhythms.  Symptoms of the most common, coronary heart disease, can include chest pain, heart palpitations, and unusual breathlessness and a heart attack.  While there are too many conditions to discuss in detail here, many of the risks are similar – smoking, having high cholesterol, high blood pressure or diabetes all can increase the risks.  As a result, key ways to keep your heart healthy include staying active, stopping smoking, eating a balanced diet, and keeping a healthy weight.

If you are concerned, you should see your doctor immediately.  People over 40 can have a free NHS check to assess your risks in all countries of the UK except Wales (see British Heart Foundation for more information).

More information is available from these sources:

British Heart Foundation

NHS Choices

 

Mental Health

We all have a level of mental health throughout our lives, in the same way as we have a level of physical health.  And like our physical health and wellbeing, our mental health can be better and worse at different points.  You could be said to be mentally unwell if you are suffering from consistent anxiety.  This does not necessarily mean that you have a ‘condition’, merely that you’re not on top form.  In this way, mental health must be seen as a spectrum, from well (mental health) to chronically unwell (mental illness).  It is estimated that one in four people in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year.  2.6% of the population experience depression and 4.7% have anxiety problems, but as many as 9.7% suffer both depression and anxiety, which makes this the most prevalent mental health problem in the population as a whole.

Too often men are loathe to seek help, for many reasons including perceptions of masculinity, not wanting to appear or feel ‘weak’, common stigma about mental health, or a lack of understanding of mental health overall.  However, mental ill health is something we all experience at some point in our lives, and recognising that you may need help or support does not diminish you; in fact, this can be the first step to assertively (even manfully!) take control of your life and health.

There are too many types of mental health problems to outline here, but some of the most common are chronic depression or anxiety.  Symptoms will be familiar to many people: depression may include feeling low, sleep problems, or a loss of appetite, concentration and energy.  People with chronic anxiety (often termed generalised anxiety disorder) feel anxious most days, often struggle to remember the last time they felt relaxed, and can feel restless, worried, or have trouble concentrating or sleeping.

If you are feeling unwell, or concerned about your mental health, please use the information sources below, and consider seeing your doctor or a mental health specialist for the right support.  Above all, talk about how you are feeling with people you trust and seek support; too often the stigma and misunderstanding which still surrounds mental health and illness means that people do not seek support from friends or family.

For further information and sources of support visit:

See NHS Choices on Anxiety and Depression

Mind

Mental Health Foundation

Counselling Directory

 

Respiratory Disease

There are a range of diseases that can affect the lungs and respiratory system, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and lung cancer (covered on this page).  Lung cancer and emphysema/bronchitis are the 2nd and 3rd biggest causes of death in men over England and Wales, so keeping healthy lungs is clearly something men need to consider.

The risk factors for respiratory diseases can include asthma, long-term exposure to air pollution, fumes and dust from the environment or your workplace, but the most prominent risk factor is smoking.  As such, stopping smoking if you are a smoker is the best way to safeguard your lungs.

Symptoms vary according to condition, but common signs of an issue can be breathlessness, a persistent cough, a tight chest, or producing more mucus or phlegm than usual.  If you are exhibiting any of these symptoms, do see you doctor or seek more information from reputable sources.

You can find more information from these sources:

British Lung Foundation

NHS Choices

 

Stroke

Stroke is the 4th biggest cause of death in men in the UK.  Every year there are approximately 152,000 strokes in the UK.  A stroke happens when the blood supply to part of your brain is cut off.  This can damage your brain cells, leading to death, or long-term physical and/or mental effects if you survive.  If a person survives a stroke, this can affect the way their body functions, how they feel, communicate or think.

Risks for stroke include having diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol, as well as lifestyle factors such as poor diet, smoking or a sedentary lifestyle. These risks can include the chances of blood clots forming and blocking the flow of blood to the brain.  Strokes are also more prevalent in people over 65.

The most common signs that someone is having a stroke are well summarised by Public Health England’s FAST campaign below:

–       FACIAL weakness: Can the person smile?  Has their mouth or eye drooped?

–       ARM weakness: Can the person raise both arms and keep them there?

–       SPEECH problems: Can the person speak clearly and understand what you say?

–       TIME:  If you see any of the first three signs, it’s to call 999.

If you are worried about your risk of stroke, as always, go to see your doctor, and seek out quality information.  Good sources are below:

The Stroke Association

British Heart Foundation

NHS Choices

 

Disclaimer: The Blue Ribbon Foundation acts as a signposting service to specialist websites containing more detailed information on specific illnesses and conditions. We endeavour to ensure all information presented here is up-to-date and gathered from multiple respected sources.  However, the data presented on this website is for general information purposes only.  We make no representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied, about the completeness, accuracy, reliability, or suitability of this information in respect to specific concerns or questions you may have about your own health.  If you are concerned about your own health, it is imperative you seek professional medical advice at the earliest opportunity.

 

Find out more about our sister charity…

The Pink Ribbon Foundation is a grant making trust with a mission to fund projects and provide financial support to UK charities which relieve the needs of people who are suffering from, have been affected by breast cancer, or who work to advance the understanding of breast cancer and its early detection and treatment.

FIND OUT MORE

Organisations we have worked with to promote men’s health and wellbeing

How to get in touch:

Jonathan Prince, Trustee

Crofton House, 5 Morley Close
Orpington
Kent
BR6 8JR

(t) 01689 858877

(e) enquiries@blueribbonfoundation.org.uk.

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