Leeds man whose life was turned around by Andy's Man Club launches new group for struggling men
Andy's Man Club has helped to save the lives of hundreds of men across the country.
And now its vital services in Leeds are to be expanded, as a second weekly support group launches in the south of the city.
The charity was formed in early 2016 by Halifax rugby league player Luke Ambler after his brother-in-law took his own life.
It aims to break the stigma surrounding men's mental health, creating a safe and confidential space for men from all walks of life to open up about their problems.
The Leeds talking group at East Leeds RLFC will now return to its previous venue, Leeds College of Building’s North Campus, with sessions held every Monday, excluding Bank Holidays, from 7pm.
A second Leeds group will launch this Monday, with weekly sessions at 7pm at Vale Circles in Beeston. It's headed up by Liam Pearce, of Rothwell, who first turned to Andy's Man Club for support last year.
“On the surface, I had the perfect life," the 30-year-old told the Yorkshire Evening Post.
"I'd just got married, got a job that I'd been working towards for a while and bought my first house. But I had this numb feeling that I couldn’t shake off.
"Everything got on top of me; saving for the wedding, saving for the new house, and a job that was much harder than I thought.
"I remember driving on the motorway at 70mph, listening to Stormzy’s new album, and I burst out crying.
“I spoke to my wife about it and told her how I was feeling and decided to tackle it head-on from there.”
Since its launch five years ago, Andy's Man Club has rapidly expanded - its groups across the country have helped to save the lives of hundreds of men.
Liam first attended the Leeds group in March 2020, a week before lockdown, before the sessions moved online. He waited six months before joining the group regularly in November when it went back to meeting in person.
"The first week I went, there were around 100 men there, from all walks of life," Liam said.
"You have an idea that it’s a certain type of person that goes to these groups, but there were so many different men sharing their stories which was really encouraging.
“I didn’t say much in my first week, but hearing that other people were struggling helps you know it’s a normal thing - that you're not alone in this.”
The group became a crutch for Liam, who opened up about issues he struggled to talk about with family and friends.
When his wife sadly miscarried in December, the sessions helped to support Liam through his trauma and be there for his wife.
He became a facilitator for the Leeds group in March and will now lead the new group in Beeston, which he hopes will give men a safe place for them to open up and "be vulnerable."
"The group helped me so much that I wanted to be there for other people," Liam added.
“The confidentiality was a huge thing for me. I was able to say things there that I haven’t told my family and friends, with the confidence that it won’t leave that group.
"I’m the eldest of five children to a single mum so I was always the person people turned to, and it was the same among my friendship group. I was the person who listened and helped them.
"Because of that, I felt like I couldn’t burden people with my issues - because I wanted them to come to me, and I enjoyed being that person.
"The group is a place where you can be really vulnerable. I want men to know it’s there every Monday for when they need it.”
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