Andy's Man Club launches in Sunderland as men are given a chance to tackle their mental health issues together
A new club is giving men a chance to seek support from their peers in sessions which could prove to be a lifesaver.
Andy’s Man Club already has branches around the country and now has its own here on Wearside.
The peer-to-peer sessions give men a place to speak about their worries and mental health struggles, with the speaker holding a football to show they have the floor, while others can offer advice and backing.
The organisation was launched in Halifax three years ago following the death of Andy Roberts, who was 23 when he took his own life.
It led his mother Elaine and brother-in-law Luke Ambler, a professional rugby player, to channel their determination into preventing other families from facing the trauma they experienced and save other lives.
Now with 28 groups across the country, it works to reduce suicide in men, although those who join do not have to have such thoughts or issues.
The Sunderland session is held on Mondays from 7pm until around 9pm at Sunderland College’s Bede Campus on Durham Road, with its organisers delighted with the support they have been given so far by the college's bosses.
Michael Chapplow, who is running the session with John Campney, said: “We’ve been part of a group in Hartlepool for three years now but we both live in the Sunderland area and so we’ve been trying for a while to find a venue.
“It’s basically peer-to-peer support for anybody who feels they need it, whether it’s a mental health issue or some other problem and it’s done in small groups.
“Ultimately, it’s giving them an opportunity to open up and we will help them in any way we can.
“It’s a confidential session, so people can relax and know what is discussed doesn’t leave that room.
“It’s completely free to join in and there’s always tea and coffee.
“We got around 10 people for our first session and we’ve had a lot of traction on Facebook with about 1,200 people liking our page.
“It’s the one group where people say they can talk without judgement and be understood.”