The StandUp Foundation was established in 2011 by former England rugby international Ben Cohen (MBE). Ben Cohen’s career went from strength to strength after making his debut for Northampton Saints in the 1996/97 season. When his time at the Northampton Saints came to an end he spent two seasons in France from 2007 to 2009 before moving back to England to play for the Sale Sharks. Not only did Ben Cohen make 180 appearances for professional rugby clubs, but he played at the very top level with England. Representing your country is the greatest honour any professional player can have and Ben Cohen was lucky to have made 57 appearances for his country. He wasn’t there to just make up the numbers though. Ben Cohen was a very talented winger and scored 155 points during what has been heralded as the golden era for English rugby. It was an era that saw Sir Clive Woodward’s team win the Rugby World Cup in Australia by beating Australia in the final with a beautiful drop goal from Johnny Wilkinson.
Establishing a new charity was not something that Ben Cohen had immediately thought of when he retired from professional rugby. It was a combination of events that inspired the decision to create StandUp and develop its brand. One significant influence was the death of his father Peter Cohen. It was reported that Peter Cohen was defending an employee who was being attacked and subsequently he was then attacked by a group of men. Unfortunately Ben’s father succumbed to his injuries some time later. Another piece of motivation for Ben Cohen was finding out about his popularity amongst the Gay Community. In 2007 Ben Cohen was informed about his popularity and after speaking with a number of people from the Gay Community he felt that he was in a unique position to make a difference and he wanted to break down the stereotypes that the LGBT Community face.
There is a lot that can be said for bullying and for those who are victimized by others because they are different, but more often than not those voices are not always heard. Society accepts that there is a problem, but it does little about it. Stamping out racism and homophobia in sport has received a lot of media attention and there has been a lot of tough talk surrounding the issue. Yet, very little has been done to change the situation. For Ben, society is where racism was 20 years ago but he acknowledges that we need to address the issue through education and lots of it.
“Homophobia is the last taboo. Society, globally, has done great work on racism, now homophobia is where racism was 20 years ago. Yes, I think society does fails in some way to address the issues. I think education is needed, especially in schools and school playgrounds, getting younger people to understand what homophobic slurs mean in the same way they understand what racial slurs mean. Teachers need to have that awareness too and adequate training to address the issue.”
Since the creation of the foundation Ben has been very busy raising awareness of bullying and the effects that it can have on people in both the short term and long term. Ben has travelled to Northern Ireland to help promote the launch of the Gay NI magazine and then dashed off to Atlanta in the United States of America to see the screening of Legalize Gay, the movie, as well as getting his kit off for various photo shoots for the foundation. Ben Cohen has recently been on television for a programme called “The Cube” and won a substantial amount of money for the StandUp Foundation too.
StandUp acknowledge that it is important to raise awareness. Not just in the short term effects that bullying has on people, but the long term effects too. It is of huge importance to the Foundation. Ben Cohen however, is keen for the Foundation to stay away from religion and politics and solely focus on raising awareness to anyone and everyone. The Foundation is something that Ben Cohen truly believes in and his passion and drive has helped the Foundation grow, develop and start to make a difference. Since Ben Cohen started working with the StandUp Foundation he has ousted David Beckham as the number one gay icon. A sign of the appreciation for the work that Ben Cohen and the Foundation are doing. It is an achievement he is immensely proud of and rightly so.
If you would like to show your support to Ben Cohen and keep an eye on what he is up to you can do so by clicking on the links below;
If you would like to show your support to the StandUp Foundation you can do so by clicking on the links below;
(Copyright belongs to Ben Cohen and the Stand Up Foundation. Any pictures and additional information are used with Ben Cohen’s permission and permission of the foundation.)