Andy's Man Club and peer-to-peer mental health support group launches new club in Manchester this February.
“If there’d have been somewhere where Andy could have gone, I think he would be alive now.”
Andy's Man Club is a supportive space launching in Manchester city centre on 25th February. We speak to Dan Rowe, one of the facilitators of the new Manchester club who speaks to us about why such support groups are a vital lifeline in our society. Dan, thanks for joining us!
How did Andy's Man Club come about?
Dan: Andy Roberts was a loving and doting father, and a son, brother, grandson, nephew, cousin and friend. He was a great footballer and loved playing matches with his friends on weekends. Andy was an all-round top guy and one of the truly nicest people I've had the pleasure of meeting. As a youngster he had frequent run-ins with the law and had been in and out of prison for a number of years but as an adult, this had changed. The way Andy turned his life around was staggering to see and the love he had for his daughter was truly inspirational.
Then sadly and tragically without any warning, Andy ended his life on a Monday. He was taken away from his friends and family by suicide. Andy's family knew he had suffered some personal difficulties, but they hadn't realised how bad it had been. Tragically, it's a common story: suicide is now the single biggest killer of men under 45 in the UK, with around 4,500 male suicides every year- that's one every two hours.
According to those 42%, what seems to be a big underlying problem for men is their inability to speak out about what is bothering them. They don't want to burden others and believe it is seen as a weakness for men to talk about their feelings or struggles. It's ingrained in our culture and upbringing. You don't want to come across as 'weak' to your partner or friends. Another reason is that men feel it embarrassing to talk about their feelings.
Suicide is now the single biggest killer of men under 45 in the UK, with around 4,500 male suicides every year- that's one every two hours."
However I think that society's perception around mental health is really starting to change when people are recognising that it really is okay to talk. Whilst decades of belief wont change overnight, it is imperative that when an individual is ready to talk that there is somewhere accessible for them to go. We want to give the men in our lives somewhere to go, a safe space where they feel they can talk! We have been told for years that 'men don't talk, and whilst that may be true, every week we have about 400 guys opening up.
Who is the club for?
Any man over eighteen who is going through a storm, been through a storm or just wants to come along and meet a good group of people, or if you just need a bit of a lift. Manchester will be the 18th Group, to have gone from a group of 9 men nearly 3 years ago, in a community room in Halifax to just under 400 walking though the doors each week is a remarkable achievement and shows that there is a clear need for groups like this to exist.
Manchester is an iconic city that is thriving and more people are attracted to the city each year. But with the success of everyday life comes pressure of everyday life. And the reception from people coming forward when we announced the Manchester club has shown that there is such a need for clubs such as these.
We have a great facilitator team in Manchester made up of Andy Hall, James Duggan, Andy Greenway and myself.
My personal journey is that I started attending Andy's Man Club in January 2018 and it saved my life. To be able to give something back and grow this amazing charity to help others is the reason I am involved.
Andy Hall first came to AMC almost 2 years ago when he was struggling with paranoia and anxiety. Going to AMC changed how he viewed things and credits the club with no longer feeling isolated with his feelings.
James Duggan has struggled with depression and mental ill health all his adult life. He's new to AMC but found it so powerful to talk honestly and openly about life and his struggles with mental health. He is looking forward to bringing AMC to Manchester.
We are also supported by Andy Greenway who is Project Development Manager for Andy's Man Club and who helped set up the Oldham club.
My personal journey is that I started attending Andy's Man Club in January 2018 and it saved my life."
Watch the Manchester AMC club launch video below
Andy's Man Club will be running a confidential drop in every Monday evening from 7pm at The Federation, Manchester. Simply pop by for a brew and a chat with some peers.