Andy's Man Club: Mental health charity encourages men to seek help at their groups

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The lockdowns and social distancing we've all experienced over the past year have taken on a toll on people's mental wellbeing.

But for men, all too often these issues are not spoken about can weigh heavily on those suffering.

Andy's Man Club a mental health charity which runs talking groups for men all over the country, has seen the number of men attending drop since they reopened after the lockdown earlier this year.

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The club opened a Scarborough group in February 2020 which takes place on Monday nights at 7pm at Scarborough Library on Vernon Road.

Shaun Tymon and Gordon Thompson. Picture: JPI Media/ Richard PonterShaun Tymon and Gordon Thompson. Picture: JPI Media/ Richard Ponter
Shaun Tymon and Gordon Thompson. Picture: JPI Media/ Richard Ponter

It is open to any man over 18.

Neil Waine, project development champion, explained that at the start of the first lockdown in 2020, all the clubs closed overnight and within a week had moved online but that 'nothing can replace face to face.'

He said a lot of the coping mechanisms men tend to gravitate towards such as meeting for a drink in the pub, going to the football or playing a round of golf, have all been taken away or restricted over the course of the pandemic.

"I don't think we'll know the true effects for a while," Neil said, "There were guys who were already struggling before and that has been compounded by life as we know it shutting down.

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"The sad reality is we will have lost men off the back of that."

Since reopening their doors this year, the number of men attending in-person groups has begun to rise but is still not at pre-pandemic levels.

For some, making the first step to visit a club can be the most intimidating part.

Neil said to any man who is nervous about joining a group: "All the guys that you'll see in that room have all felt the same.

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"It's a difficult door to walk through but it goes from being the hardest door to walk through to one of the best.

"Make the step because it's the most important step you'll ever take."

Neil added that whilst the club's motto is 'it's ok to talk', it's also ok for those who are nervous and not ready to speak yet, to just turn up and listen.

Earlier this month Andy's Man Club in Halifax received The Queen's Award for Voluntary Service, the highest award a voluntary group can receive.

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However, Neil explained that the organisation saw it as an honour for all of their groups.

"We always say, one in, all in," he said, "The nature of our organisation is that it is run by volunteers, now 300 plus of them on a Monday night.

"[The award] is a real round of applause for [them].

"They turn up for no gain other than to help people who are going through a situation they themselves may have already been through."

The club, which aimed to open 10 branches in its first five years, now has 50.

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Andy's Man Club began in Halifax in 2006 in memory of Andy Roberts, 23, who took his own life.

It was set up by his mother and brother-in-law.

Neil added: "It's a real testament to the family who didn't want their son to die in vain. It’s impossible to know how many men have been saved over the years.

"The thing with it is the fact that we’re on 50, it’s sad that it's needed but its brilliant that it's there."