VIDEO: Watch as Halifax's Luke Ambler talks about the last five years of Andy's Man Club
It started in Halifax with one meeting.
Five years later, and Andy’s Man Club is tackling the taboo of male depression and suicide in more than 50 places all across the UK.
The charity was co-founded by former Halifax rugby player Luke Ambler after his brother-in-law Andy Roberts died by suicide and has since snowballed, attracting backing from the likes of Prince Harry, rapper Professor Green and former Prime Minister Theresa May.
“It just completely exploded.” said Luke.
The charity recently won The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service and Luke has been shortlisted for a National Lottery award for outstanding community work.
The club has helped so many men open up about their feelings and seek help with its slogan ‘It’s OK to talk’.
Among them is 32-year-old Oliver Vikse, who was among the nine men who attended the very first session.
“At the time I was in a rubbish place with a lot going on,” he said. “I had nowhere to go, no one to talk to. I found myself in the pub most nights just for some company.
“I’ve known Luke for a long time and I saw a poster about Andy’s Man Club on social media. A friend said ‘I know you’re going through a rough time, you should go along’.
“Just talking to people and hearing people who have gone through the same and understand is massive.
“I went home that night feeling like I’d had 12 cans of Red Bull. I honestly felt like I could have flown home that night.
“I knew then it was something I wanted to share with as many people as possible.”
Oliver went from attending the club’s sessions to facilitating the Halifax meetings and now works for the charity as a project development champion.
He urged any men who are struggling to come to one of the meetings held every Monday night.
”We have men from those that have just turned 18 to men in their mid-80s.They come from all walks of life. Everybody leaves any titles they have at the doors. We have people who are homeless and people who are CEOs.”
Andy’s Man Club has several groups in Calderdale.
They meet at Town Hall Dental in Brighouse, Arden Road Social Club in Halifax, Whitehill Academy in Illingworth and Hebden Bridge Town Hall.
All meet every Monday, except bank holidays, at 7pm.
For more information visit www.andysmanclub.co.uk or email [email protected]
Anyone who feels they need to speak to someone urgently can call The Samaritans confidentially and free any time, from any phone, on 116 123 or online at www.samaritans.org.