A group that offers men a safe place to open up and talk about their mental health is urging people to continue to get in touch, despite the Covid-19 lockdown.
Since its first meeting on 7 January 2019, the Sheffield branch of Andy’s Man Club has regularly welcomed up to 50 men through its doors each week.
And since the lockdown began on 26 March, the group has been continuing to offer support to men online.
One of the five facilitators of the Sheffield group is former South Yorkshire Police Sergeant Andy Wilson.
He said: “Nothing has changed, apart from the fact we are meeting online. We are still here, week in, week out, each Monday night.
“As with the face-to-face group, some men turn up regularly each week, others attend once and you might never see them again. Then there are those who will come along for a few weeks when they may be struggling a bit.
“That’s the great thing about this group. It’s here when you need it. You can talk as much as you want, or just listen. There is no judgement, just a listening ear and support from others who understand what you are going through.”
The impact of the lockdown on people’s mental health has been widely acknowledged. Many people may be struggling with a loss of routine, being unable to see family and friends or go to work. Others may be coming to terms with recent unemployment or bereavement.
But whatever is going on, Andy is urging people to look after themselves and each other. And to ask for help when they need it.
He added: “You can’t pour from an empty cup. Please take the time look after yourselves and each other. If you are struggling, find someone to talk to. And if you are that person for someone, take the time to really listen.
“There are lots of groups out there offering help and support. Don’t suffer in silence.”
Andy got involved with the club following his own mental health struggles back in 2009 while still serving with SYP.
“Man Club allows men to talk in a safe, non-judgemental and confidential environment,” said Andy.
“We are not professionals or councillors – we are facilitators. There are no referrals required and no need to give any personal details or sign up to anything.
“It really is making changes and delivering the goods. As the people open up, they get help from each other. Who better to talk to than people who have gone through or are going through the same things?”
Following on from the success of the group in Sheffield, a branch launched in Rotherham at the end of 2019 and plans are underway to start another in Doncaster.
Andy’s Man Club has one ultimate aim – to reduce the number of men taking their own lives. Suicide is currently the biggest killer of men aged 45 and under in the UK.
It is part of a national network, which sees groups meeting one evening a week in locations across the country.
It began in Halifax, West Yorkshire back in 2016 following the death Andy Roberts. His brother-in-law Luke Ambler invited men in the town to come together for a coffee and a chat. Nine men turned up to that first meeting and the initiative grew to the point where, before lockdown, there were 21 groups operating each week across the country.
The Sheffield group meets every Monday (except Bank Holidays) from 7pm to 9pm at South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Community Rooms on Eyre Street in Sheffield.
Meetings are currently taking place online due to the Covid-19 lockdown. Email email@example.com for details on how to attend a virtual meeting.
The group is open to anyone aged 18 and over.
To find out more about the group check it out on Facebook.
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