Home Men's Health The faces behind Preston’s mental health club making sure men ‘don’t suffer...

The faces behind Preston’s mental health club making sure men ‘don’t suffer alone’

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A new mental health support club is making waves amongst men in Lancashire.

Andy’s Man Club (AMC) is a franchised mental health support group which was first started in Halifax back in 2016 by Rugby League player Luke Ambler.

The club was founded after Luke’s brother-in-law Andy Robertson took his own life without warning one Monday night.

His sudden death led to formation of AMC branches across the country, a safe space where men can sit down and talk to combat the serious male suicide rates seen across the UK.

Preston’s Gerard Hughes, a retired accountant, decided to open the new branch after hearing a talk from Luke Ambler.

Andy’s Man Club Preston; a safe space for men to talk.

He told LancsLive that his experience of old school expectations on men in society helped him push for the club to open in the county.

“Throughout my life I have seen different attitudes to mental health and men’s role in society,” said the 64-year-old.

“I have lived through times when men were expected to act in a certain way, to put on a brave face, have a stiff upper lip and be the rock of the family.

“There are pressures that come with that and I have seen that change but I haven’t seen that enough.

“We are not even close to having the right attitude to men’s health but I have seen it a lot worse.”

Gerard was keen to bring AMC to Lancashire as when he realised that there was no safe space for men in the county.

The first meeting of the Preston branch was held on November 23 and since then 11 or so men have regularly attended meetings.

Gerard said: “Everybody has times in their life where they are going through stuff and going through pain.

“I have had my fair share of that, I can’t say I have been depressed or suicidal but I have had real stress and going through that alone was painful.

“This club is about ensuring people don’t suffer alone, that men have a safe space where they feel supported and listened to.”

“After going to the first session; I felt so different and supported which is why I wanted to get more involved.”

Each meeting begins the same way; with Gerard asking how everyone’s week was before asking the simple open question: “Does anyone have anything they want to talk about?”

It’s a question that can attract a myriad of responses and it gives those attending a chance to get things off their chest.

One such man was Chris Pope, who has now joined Gerard as one of the facilitators at the Preston branch.

Chris has lived with depression for the past three years but has found AMC a real breath of fresh air.

He told LancsLive: “After going to the first session; I felt so different and supported which is why I wanted to get more involved.

“In today’s society we are more connected then ever when it comes to communications and social media but in reality we have never been more divided.

“I think people now like or message on Facebook and see that as checking in but we need to have those face to face chats.

“AMC puts me in a better frame of mind and pushes me to the weekend where I can look forward to it again on a Monday.”

For Gerard and Chris the sky is the limit when it comes to their AMC branch.

Gerard knows that there are thousands of people in the Preston area who need their help and that this small weekly meeting is just the beginning of something much bigger.

He said: “We want this all to grow, 10 men is good but there are so many more people out there that need our help.

“We just want it to be as big as possible.”

Andy’s Man Club is not exclusively for mental health sufferers but caters for people who are lonely or down or might have just had a bad week.

If you want to attend Andy’s Man Club in Preston you are asked to send a quick email ahead of time so that track and trace guidelines can be gratified.

Don’t worry if you forget to email ahead of time you can still attend and do the track and trace when you arrive at Penwortham Social Club.

Meetings start at 7pm and are hosted by Gerard and Chris, make sure you bring a face mask.

To contact the Samaritans call the 24/7 helpline on 116 123.

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https://www.lancs.live/news/lancashire-news/faces-behind-prestons-mental-health-19440799

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