Thurstan Crockett, 58, Community Mentor for the South West.
How did you know about abob?
I was living in Brighton at the time and there was a very active Super Dads group that I was involved in. We dads would support our children at primary schools, as there weren’t many men around. Ali Mayor who set up Super Dads suggested that I would love abob and should look into it. I went along to an abob opening evening and basically was so blown away that I got the idea of settting up an abob group in Cornwall, because I was intent on moving there. Funnily enough magic was present when I sat down in an opening circle on my rites of passage weekend: another man, James Benzing, said he was hoping to set up a group in Cornwall and lived only a few miles from me there. We clicked. By May 2015, we were meeting, and that initial intention was in Feb 2015!
How was BTH for you?
It was massive for me. A deeply moving and transformative experience. I connected profoundly with the whole weekend. I was leading a dysfunctional life at the time and it really helped me go down a different route. It allowed me to choose to change. I am so grateful that I got to do it and am involved with abob. There were men who were kind of heroes to me after that but over time and through training for me, they have become peers. I understood how supportive it could be to older and younger men and knew I had to be involved in a bigger way.
How were you after the weekend?
Even more determined to get Cornwall up and running. I threw a lot of energy into it. We spent a year consolidating the group and preparing for the young men. We did our first weekend with young men in 2016.
Cornwall supports young men in a broad sense?
We work with young men in crisis, they are either in the criminal justice system or heading that way. Like care leavers. We’ve had to find ways into the system. The police have been great, but it’s been harder to engage with the probation service down here. There is something called the Pathfinder scheme in connection to the police and we find some of our young men come through that. We’re building our profile and reputation now, and doors are opening.
How has your mentoring been?
I’ve mentored four or five young men. I found it a challenging process until I realised that I wasn’t responsible for transforming their lives, they were.
And I have seen the process – mentoring and weekend – change lives. I’ve seen young men gain confidence and self-worth, also it helps with their families. they find places to live, start working, get support with mental health issues.
What about raising the funding for yourselves?
We were always looking to be self-sufficient in terms of funding. We got great support from the Hub team at abob, then went on to set up local fundraising initiatives.
Have you done many of the abob trainings?
Yes and last year I did the Sovereign Leader training, which is brilliant. It’s looking at the archetypes that we often use like the warrior or magician in depth. It’s about holding a sense of deep sovereignty for the men, which is beautiful.
What does the future hold for you in abob?
Being a potent leader in abob is one of my life’s priorities. Abob gives a powerful sense of purpose to men. It has also enabled me to be a better father, partner and person. I spent 30 years in the wilderness, the last eight with abob have been about coming back to myself.