Andy’s Man Club is a peer-to-peer support group which encourages men to open up about their problems and talk with like-minded people.
The club has groups nationwide working to break down the stigma around men talking about their feelings and encouraging them to not bottle up what is troubling them.
Gerard Hughes, the Preston branch facilitator, has worked hard to open up an Andy’s Man Club group in Preston after hearing about the groups and realising that there wasn’t any in Central Lancashire:
“There is now about 30 branches of Andy’s Man Club around the UK and it’s growing all the time. Last night there were around 500 men attending around the country and that number is relatively low compared to pre-Covid, we are trying to build back up again. There was a big geographical gap in Lancashire. There is groups in Oldham and Manchester but nothing in Central Lancashire.
“I basically wanted to do something about that because my passion is breaking down these barriers for men and getting men to talk. Last night, we held our first meeting at Penwortham Cricket Club where 11 of us supported each other and talked and it was fantastic.”
He explains why he got involved and why the groups are important:
“I think we are all aware of men’s reluctance to talk, bottling problems up instead of talking about them. We break those barriers down, we encourage men in a confidential, non-judgemental environment to talk with other men who could have gone through similar problems. It’s such a supportive environment.”
Andy’s Man Club was founded by the brother in law of Andy Roberts, who tragically took his own life at the age of 23:
“All of the Andy’s Man Club groups meet at 7 pm on Mondays because that is when Andy Roberts took his own life. Luke Ambler, the founder, was the brother in law of Andy and made it in his memory so throughout the country, the groups are meeting to talk about their problems at that time.”
Gerard was inspired to get involved after hearing Luke’s story of why he started Andy’s Man Club:
“I heard Luke Ambler talk about it at a conference and it caught my imagination because I work with the Samaritans and things like that. It hit the nail on the head for me because its getting men to talk and break down these barriers, that’s where I thought I wanted to focus and help.
“I’ve had problems myself, I’m pleased to say it is nothing really serious and I’ve never been properly depressed but I have had lots of stress over the years in my life. I’ve kept it to myself and haven’t shared it, thinking ‘I can deal with this, I’m a man’ and it doesn’t work.”
The Preston branch of Andy’s Man Club meet at Penwortham Cricket Club on Greenbank Road in Penwortham every Monday at 7pm.
If you would like to join the Preston Branch of Andy’s Man Club, email email@example.com. For any more information, check out the group’s Preston Facebook page here.