Rugby Player Sets Up Club To Get Men Talking About Mental Health And Wants Your Help
Featured image credit: Luke Ambler
Here at TheLADbible, we often talk about the fact that suicide is the number one killer of males under the age of 45 in the UK and men are three times more likely to kill themselves than women.
We regularly encourage you to talk and to be open about how you feel. However, apart from ringing a helpline - where are you supposed to go?
Luke Ambler, a 26-year-old Halifax rugby player was distraught when in April of this year, his brother-in-law committed suicide.
He decided that he wanted to do something. So he set up Andy's Man Club in Halifax. A group dedicated to being a safe space for men to talk about how they feel and what's getting them down.
The page states: "This is Andy Roberts. A loving and doting father, son, brother, grandson, nephew, cousin and friend. He was a great footballer and loved playing with his friends on a weekend. He was an all round top guy, one of the truly nicest people I have had the pleasure of meeting.
"As a youngster, he was known to have frequent run ins with the law but as an adult this had changed. He had become this polite, caring, funny young man with a whole life ahead of him. The way he had changed his life round was staggering to see and an absolute pleasure. His love for his daughter was inspirational to see and they way he looked at her and idolised her was a blessing.
"Sadly and tragically, without any warning Andrew was taken away from all his family and friends by suicide. What is staggering is that 42% of men aged 18-45 have considered suicide as an option. Then add to that that the single biggest killer of men under 45 is suicide. Around 4200 men, (that's one man every two hours), a year are taken from this world and their families by suicide. It is quite unbelievable that there isn't that much awareness. What seems to be a big underlying problem for men is their inability to speak out about what is bothering them.
Luke continued: "Andy had nowhere to go to tell people how he felt. After I read the statistics around male suicide - I found it staggering.
"I decided to make a 'coffee club' where people could talk. I put a post up on Facebook suggesting it and, to be honest, I didn't think anyone was going to be interested. I imagined it would just be me and Andy's mum sat in an empty room.
"However, I received around 250 messages. People were talking about themselves, their brothers, their dads... I was planning on setting up the first meeting for three weeks from then. After I realised how many people needed this, I organised the first one in less than a week."
In the three weeks since Luke started Andy's Man Club, he says he's seen a significant change in the members: "So far, 24 new men have walked through the doors. The difference in such a short period of time is unbelievable. Some people were so down that they were off work - they're now back in.
"The plan is to save at least one life. If we do that, it's successful. I feel like we may have already achieved that goal. We had two or three people who were very close. But now they've got support."
At the moment, they have a counsellor who's part of the group. He's also looking at bringing in solicitors who can give advice about fathers seeing their children, running debt management classes for those with gambling addictions or money troubles as well as the possibility of anger management classes and even Taekwondo classes. Luke said: "I don't want to bring people in to do presentations and just talk at our members; I want them to be part of the group."
This is where you come in, lads. Luke wants an Andy's Man Club in every major city in the UK at least. If you want to set up an Andy's Man Club in your town or city, email Luke and he will come to you and help you set one up. He will even provide materials to help you.
He added: "Our overall aim is to halve the number of suicides. I know that's a massive task, but it's something to strive for. Even if we only manage a quarter - we will have done something amazing."
You can contact him by emailing [email protected]
However, if you need someone to talk to immediately, contact The CALMzone, which offers amazing support to anyone when things get tough.
The helpline and web chat service are open 5pm to midnight, every day of the year. Nationwide: 0800 58 58 58; London: 0808 802 58; Webchat: www.thecalmzone.net/get-help
You can also contact the Samaritans on a Freephone number - 116 123. Alternatively, you can email [email protected]
We can do this together, lads.
Words by Mel Ramsay
TheLADbible is currently in the process of filming a documentary about Andy's Man Club. Keep your eyes peeled for information on the release.