‘It has saved my life’: Ex-army Leeds man reveals how Andy’s Man Club has been ‘driving force’ in transforming life
A Leeds man who served in the army has revealed how Andy’s Man Club helped transform his life.
Andy’s Man Club has helped save the lives of more than 800 men across the country since it was set up.
The club was formed in early 2016 by Halifax rugby league player Luke Ambler after his brother-in-law took his own life.
Since then, the group has expanded across the country and now has more than 800 men attend every week.
Tom Dunn, 29, first joined the group in early 2018 following a break down.
Speaking at the second anniversary of the group event at Brudenell Social Club, Tom told your Yorkshire Evening Post how he never used to speak about his problems.
However, Tom said - after spotting a poster for the club in his local barbers - the group had ‘saved his life’.
Tom explained: "I joined two years ago.
"I first came to a group meeting in April 2018.
"I had a breakdown myself before I made the decision to join.
"Like a typical man, I didn't speak about my problems.
"I first spotted a poster for Andy's Man Club in my barbers while having my hair cut.
"It just seemed so much less clinical, they made me feel very welcome.
"They are such a great group of blokes.”
Tom said when he first joined the group, there were around 10 men attending on a weekly basis.
He added: “Now, there are over 50, it is incredible.
"Every week, more than 50 come to the Leeds group.
"I had reached my breaking point with mental health issues and I was on the verge of doing something stupid.
"I had been through the NHS and tried different options.
"This group has been a driving force in turning my life around.”
Tom’s incredible story comes as the YEP is also campaigning to break down the stigma surrounding mental health issues, as part of our #SpeakYourMind campaign.
First launched in 2016, our campaign has received high-profile backing from the likes of Prime Minister Theresa May and Kensington Palace.
Tom said he had hit the ‘lowest of the low’ mentally before joining the group and was experiencing serious problems.
With the help of his fellow members, his life had been turned around, he told the YEP.
Tom added: “There is such a camaraderie between the group.
"It has saved my life, I really mean that.
"It is so much more acceptable now in society for men to talk since the group started.
"People do need to talk, I think the group is just going to explode in the next few years with loads more men joining.
"From where we started, it is amazing how far we have come.
"It is great for everyone, anyone struggling socially or just anybody who wants to sit down and have a chat.”
Tom told of his friendship with group founder Andy Wilson, 31, who was the first person to speak to him at his original meeting.
He added: “When I came on the first day, the leader of the group Andy was the first one to speak to me.
"I had been meaning to go for months but just kept putting it off.
"The moment I walked through the door, I was made to feel welcome.
"I have been best mates with Andy almost ever since.”
Tom is now a facilitator at the group and helps many other men in similar positions to his own.
The group meets at 7pm every Monday apart from Bank Holidays at Leeds College of Building.
For more information email [email protected]