The driving force behind a Calderdale campaign that has changed the landscape of mental health support in the UK is celebrating a ‘big, big week’ for the organisation.
Luke Ambler, a former Halifax rugby league player who has earned plaudits from all corners of the globe for his campaigning, received a letter from Prime Minister Theresa May last week before learning that his organisation, Andy’s Man Club, is to be recognised as an official charity.
“Last week was a big, big week for us, no doubt,” he said, “it’s weeks like that give us a bit of recognition and it makes what we’re doing all the more special.”
Luke, 28, set up the newly-crowned charity in memory of his brother-in-law Andy Roberts, who tragically killed himself in 2016 at the age of just 23.
He confirmed that charity status will allow the organisation to take on two new members of staff thanks to funding from the Tudor Trust.
“When it comes to regulations around charities, we’ve always been a square peg in a round hole,” Luke said, “so many charities are built on planning - we want to act on things straight away.
“We don’t worry about red tape too much, we just want to get sorted and get on with taking action and stopping men from killing themselves.”
On the letter from the Prime Minister, Luke said he was surprised but delighted to receive that level of recognition.
“It was incredible, such a shock. Andy’s mum Elaine, who has been such a huge part of this journey with us, had written to her along with Sabrina Mullins, who works on the campaign. To get the letter from her was amazing.
“It just said thank you for our astonishing work and to keep doing what we’re doing.”
Luke refused to be drawn on his opinion on the government’s controversial approach to mental health funding, preferring instead to focus on his own role in the battle against suicide.
“I’ve always tried to make sure we don’t concern ourselves with whether they give enough funding or what the government do with mental health - I’m about what we can control in order to help people.
“I want us to control what we do, and save lives in our own way. Let other people worry about that things that we can’t change.”
Andy’s Man Club allows over 250 men to speak their mind in regions across the country every week and had new clubs open in Glasgow and Newton Abbot last week, with a distance of 450 miles spanning most of the UK.
"I couldn't have dreamt that it would have been so successful within its first couple of years. It's been an incredible response.
"Our aim to is to eventually have 1,000 men visit out club in one night."