the brave front bonus episode andy's man club
Mental health,  podcast,  The Brave Front

The Brave Front – Bonus – Andy’s Man Club

In the UK, men are three times more likely to die from suicide than women, with those aged 40-49 having the highest suicide rate of all. Men are also more likely to develop alcohol dependency and use illegal drugs, and far less likely to access mental health support.

So, in this bonus episode of The Brave Front, we caught up with Darren Edwards from Andy’s Man Club – a charity that offers men all over the UK a safe space to come to terms with the issues affecting their mental wellbeing – to talk about the options available to those worried for themselves, or someone else.

Useful links:

If you are at a point of crisis and need some support, here are some places you can turn to today:⁠ ⁠

Share the show:

If you’ve enjoyed this episode of The Brave Front, you can share it through any of the following links:

Interact with the show:

Full transcript:

00:00:09 Tim 

Hello, welcome to this special bonus episode of The Brave Front. As well as our regular show, I’d like to use these occasional bonus episodes to take a closer look at the work of some of the incredible UK charities set up to support men’s mental health, starting here with Andy’s man Club. 

00:00:28 Tim 

I recently attended the Baton of Hope relay event – an incredible suicide awareness and prevention initiative that saw a baton carried through towns and cities across the UK shining a light on suicide and its devastating impact on families. I was incredibly touched by the stories of many of those who so bravely spoke of the loved ones they lost and of the work they are doing in their names to ensure that those people in the darkest of places. 

00:00:52 Tim 

You feel that they have nowhere to turn, do have access to the support, help and tools that they need. I was also shocked to. 

00:00:59 Tim 

Find out that. 

00:01:00 Tim 

In the UK. 

00:01:01 Tim 

Men are three times more likely to die from. 

00:01:03 Tim 

Suicide than. 

00:01:04 Tim 

Women, with those aged 40 to 49 having the highest suicide rate of all. 

00:01:09 Tim 

Men are also. 

00:01:09 Tim 

More likely to develop alcohol dependency and to use illegal drugs and surprise, surprise, far less likely to access mental health support. 

00:01:19 Tim 

The event showed me that, sadly, the stigma around mental health is still holding men back from seeking help, despite the fact that we are allegedly living in a more open and inclusive society. Also in attendance at the event were a host of incredible charities, many of which have been formed following a death by suicide, which have gone on to make an incredible life. 

00:01:38 Tim 

Living difference to men and women, young and. 

00:01:40 Tim 

Old across the UK. 

00:01:42 Tim 

One of those charities was Andy’s Man Club. 

00:01:45 Tim 

Taking his name from Andrew Roberts, a man who sadly took his own life aged 23 in early 2016, the charity was set up by his family to offer men a safe place where they can meet weekly speak openly in a judgement free. 

00:01:58 Tim 

Non clinical space. 

00:02:00 Tim 

Today it runs groups all over the country, supporting more than. 

00:02:03 Tim 

3000 men. 

00:02:04 Tim 

And working with over 500 facilitators, including. 

00:02:08 Tim 

Darren Edwards a. 

00:02:09 Tim 

Project development champion at Andy’s Man Club. 

00:02:12 Tim 

I spoke to Darren over a slightly dodgy line I’m afraid to find out more about Andy’s man Club and the lessons that we can all learn from it. 

00:02:24 Tim 

Darren, thank you for joining us today. 

00:02:26 Tim 

I really appreciate you. 

00:02:27 Tim 

Taking the time to do so. 

00:02:29 Tim 

Let’s just kick off if we may. Could you just tell us a little bit? 

00:02:32 Tim 

About yourself and a little bit about Andy’s. 

00:02:34 Darren 

Man Club and why we’re here today. Well, I’ve been employed now by Andy’s man Club. I one of the guys who stepped through the door for the first time. 

00:02:45 Darren 

About two years ago at my local club in Gosport. 

00:02:49 Darren 

And then like most guys do, they stick around and want to help the next guy come through the door. Then we step up. We come and partner the sport team or facilitators as we like to call. 

00:03:02 Darren 

Them and. 

00:03:05 Darren 

Just welcome the guys through the door and then I had this amazing opportunity to actually go work for the charity. So my my actual job role is project, then I’m champion. I work for the whole of the SE. So basically anywhere South of Hertfordshire is is my area and I help support in Cornwall and Devon. 

00:03:26 Darren 

So it’s a remit. Find a venue. 

00:03:29 Darren 

That’s free. 

00:03:31 Darren 

Get a team of volunteers to run it. 

00:03:34 Darren 

They look after the venue, they look after the the whole session from Andy’s. 

00:03:38 Darren 

Man club and. 

00:03:39 Darren 

Get you guys through the door. 

00:03:40 Darren 

So the premise of Andy’s Man Club is we’re a peer-to-peer or group. 

00:03:45 Darren 

Non judgmental. 

00:03:47 Darren 

And the over the age of 18 can simply come along on a Monday from 7:00 till nine and get anything off their chest. That’s really troubling them. It’s quite a simple way of working. It’s very structured no matter where you go in the country to whatever club you go to, which there are 120. 

00:04:06 Darren 

Three at the moment. 

00:04:08 Darren 

You’ll get the same experience in every club. 

00:04:11 Darren 

I’ll go into a little bit more detail later on of how the pubs actually work, but it’s as simple as that. It’s it’s getting guys in. You don’t have to be suffering from mental health. It could be day-to-day stuff. Families, you know, friends work, financial difficulties, anything like that. 

00:04:28 Darren 

There’s no referrals, just simply come along on a Monday except for bank holidays. 

00:04:34 Darren 

Because obviously we’re shut. 

00:04:35 Darren 

Then, but just coming up and have a. 

00:04:37 Darren 

Chat and see what it’s like it. 

00:04:39 Tim 

Sounds like such a such a a simple premise, and obviously such a such a powerful one. And why? Why is it, you know, on a on a fundamental level? Why? 

00:04:46 Tim 

Is it important for? 

00:04:48 Tim 

For for us to talk about men’s mental health, not just this. 

00:04:50 Tim 

Week but all. 

00:04:51 Darren 

Year round? Well, you’ve you’ve heard all this and all year round problem. So the the mental health, we just emphasise it. So you you get all the companies and the big institutions involved and they really do push for men to talk we we’ve got that stigma. 

00:05:08 Darren 

And we where we’ve we’ve gotta be the strong ones. We’ve got to. 

00:05:12 Darren 

Support everybody support. 

00:05:13 Darren 

Our families. But you know, a lot of us secretly inside are struggling it it’s and it’s everything. It’s simple little things that can push you over the edge and. Yeah, unfortunately. 

00:05:25 Darren 

With males they don’t talk and they. 

00:05:29 Darren 

Unfortunately, a lot of them take you all to it. 

00:05:34 Darren 

We need to just get people talking. 

00:05:36 Darren 

It can be a. 

00:05:37 Darren 

You know anyone, so sons? 

00:05:39 Darren 

Brothers, fathers, grandfathers, anyone who who needs to talk and come along. The funny thing is. 

00:05:47 Darren 

With us a lot of. 

00:05:48 Darren 

Our referrals in a way come from. 

00:05:53 Darren 

The female side of the family. So your your daughters, your mothers, your grandmothers, your wives. They’re the ones who say to their husband. So go along, give. 

00:06:01 Darren 

It a go and see. 

00:06:03 Darren 

How it works if it works for you, great. 

00:06:05 Darren 

If it doesn’t. 

00:06:06 Darren 

You know that you can always try something else and the great thing. 

00:06:09 Darren 

About it is that once the guys get in. 

00:06:11 Darren 

You there’s no obligation to talk. 

00:06:13 Darren 

That’s a very important thing to bring up, but. 

00:06:17 Darren 

You’ll get guys who come along who will be. 

00:06:18 Darren 

There to support someone else. 

00:06:21 Darren 

So they’ll bring them along. 

00:06:22 Darren 

And it’s as simple as that. You’re just hearing. 

00:06:25 Darren 

From like shared. 

00:06:25 Darren 

Experiences one guy in the room may say something that resonates, and then another guy will go well. That’s that’s me. 

00:06:32 Darren 

So I can actually talk about it now. 

00:06:34 Darren 

So once the guys. 

00:06:35 Darren 

Start talking. It’s it’s huge for us. It really is. 

00:06:39 Tim 

You know, you mentioned the word stigma there as as something is still hanging around and still there despite the fact that, you know, we do talk a lot more around mental health now it’s a lot more in the press. It’s a lot. 

00:06:49 Tim 

More out there and. 

00:06:49 Tim 

Over recent years, people do talk about it a lot more. I actually have a bit of an issue with the term sort of mental health in itself in the fact that it’s so broad and so all-encompassing, it can cover everything. 

00:06:59 Tim 

That whole spectrum from low mood all the way through to suicidal ideation, you know, and that the real top level. 

00:07:07 Tim 

What would your advice be in terms of recognising in yourself when your mental well-being, maybe taking a knot and you might need a hand and or or or or to to reach out for support? How do you recognise that in yourself? Unfortunately, my first wife died by suicide. 

00:07:23 Darren 

So I had. 

00:07:24 Darren 

The bang. Here we go. Welcome to mental health. 

00:07:27 Darren 

Or the the stigma. The word stigma comes. 

00:07:29 Darren 

Up and the. 

00:07:31 Darren 

Puts mental health right at the forefront. 

00:07:34 Darren 

I became very. 

00:07:36 Darren 

Antisocial it’s the best way of putting it so. 

00:07:39 Darren 

I wouldn’t go out of the house. 

00:07:42 Darren 

You start losing friends. 

00:07:44 Darren 

You’re not eating properly. You’re just. 

00:07:47 Darren 

Functioning is the best way of putting it. I’ll going to work. The only reason I left the house was because I had to walk the dogs. 

00:07:55 Darren 

But apart from. 

00:07:56 Darren 

That I didn’t want any social interaction with anyone, so you sort of you draw. 

00:07:59 Darren 

In on yourself. 

00:08:01 Darren 

That the the way I the sorry is. 

00:08:02 Darren 

I I I fell down well. 

00:08:04 Darren 

And there wasn’t an awful lot of help coming. 

00:08:08 Darren 

You know, for people. 

00:08:10 Darren 

Reaching down and and trying to pull me out, it’s it’s when you start losing friends. 

00:08:16 Darren 

That’s when you really think, well, what’s going on. 

00:08:18 Darren 

Is it me or is it them? 

00:08:21 Darren 

And if if you’ve got that feeling and you know, sometimes you do want, you want to scream. And unfortunately, when you go down certain avenues, the screaming is it doesn’t help because you know they they say well, you know you. 

00:08:36 Darren 

Have this or do this or try this service and for me. 

00:08:43 Darren 

It was 5. 

00:08:45 Darren 

Years of not turmoil, but just looking at myself and understanding and not going, you know. But if if you got someone who who dies by suicide is very close to you, you’ve had that ripple effect. So everyone else is affected in that close circle. And it was it was the question of why and that was what was troubling me. 

00:09:04 Darren 

All the time. 

00:09:04 Darren 

Why did this? 

00:09:05 Darren 

Happen and. 

00:09:06 Darren 

Why? Why did this course of action happen to me? And then you realise that there is a reason for why it’s happened and you have to live for that reason. 

00:09:16 Darren 

So me actually verbalising it and talking to other guys, you know and women. 

00:09:22 Darren 

Who I’ve talked to about. 

00:09:23 Darren 

It it’s just help. 

00:09:26 Darren 

Relieve that pressure takes on that weight off me, and when you can look round the room or look at people and they’re nodding as you’re talking. 

00:09:37 Darren 

You’re getting that. 

00:09:38 Darren 

Appreciation. They’re actually taking it in, so it just it does take that pressure off you and it helps you realise, yeah, people will listen. People do understand and it’s not just me who’s suffering like I am at the moment. 

00:09:51 Darren 

And that’s that’s a just. 

00:09:52 Darren 

A general for everyone who’s suffering from mental health. You you’re not alone, and you do feel very much alone when you are suffering because you you, you push everyone away. You don’t want anyone to help you. But just talking about it and then seeking help in any other way you can and all the services are there. I mean, there are brilliant services around at the moment. 

00:10:12 Darren 

And mental health and a lot of it isn’t advertised, which doesn’t. 

00:10:16 Darren 

Help, but it’s starting to really get a movement going behind this so that there is more and more information becoming available that that’s free to everyone that they you know they can seek advice and they can get help immediate help as well. There’s a, you know, a lot of the problems you get with some of the mental health. So it’s uh, it’s six months time. 

00:10:36 Darren 

It it simply isn’t anymore that, that’s that’s. 

00:10:39 Darren 

A bit of. 

00:10:39 Darren 

A false reporting you can get help. 

00:10:42 Darren 

Almost immediately now. 

00:10:44 Tim 

It it sounds so easy when you talk about it, isn’t it? Sounds of you, you know, it’s good. It’s good to talk. It’s, you know, you’re there’s Andy’s man club slogan. 

00:10:50 Tim 

It’s it’s OK to talk. It sounds. It sounds so easy, but. 

00:10:53 Tim 

But I know. 

00:10:54 Tim 

From personal experience that it’s it’s not, you know, you know, being brave enough to to, to talk about it is is, is, is a challenge in itself. And I must admit from my own experiences and. And you know, after I was diagnosed with cancer and I I I sort of sunk into a bit of a hole and and just just as you were describing and and I I totally recognise what you’re talking about. 

00:11:15 Tim 

Well, I find it incredibly hard to actually. 

00:11:17 Tim 

Talk about it and I and I actually found that. 

00:11:19 Tim 

What helped me was was talking but not talking about it. Uh, I found as a lot of my friends and family wanted to talk to me about it asked me how I. 

00:11:27 Tim 

Was how are you? But I didn’t want it. I I will talk about anything else other. 

00:11:30 Tim 

That so. So is it fair to say that that, you know, peer peer support and? 

00:11:36 Tim 

Talking about it. 

00:11:37 Darren 

Or or or talking full stop is what’s important. Don’t necessarily have to talk about your problems, but talking and in general terms can also be beneficial. Ohh yes, most definitely. Yeah, but you when you’re talking about, you know, the problem, you’re suffering at the moment is you’ve got to try and get a a way of looking at it for a different direction as well. So you’ve got to. 

00:11:58 Darren 

You’ve got to be quite progressive, so even though you know like you’re saying with your cancer and. 

00:12:04 Darren 

And generally living with that, it’s finding a positive and then you can type like what you’re doing now is with the podcast. You’re actually being very positive about a thing which really affected your life. And that’s the same sort of thing when you’re going to the main club. And and sometimes a simple positive is that you’re here. 

00:12:24 Darren 

And you’re here now. It’s a huge positive because you’re not. You’re not looking behind you all the time. You’ve you’ve got to try and look forward. Look. Look to till tomorrow. Look to next week. Look to next month and then six months down the line. We’ll think. Ohh. Where was I in January? 

00:12:41 Darren 

And then you look at. 

00:12:42 Darren 

Yourself and go wow. 

00:12:44 Darren 

The lowest to the low at that point in my life, and I’m now here. I’m talking to other guys. I’m getting other guys to open up. I’m socialising, you know, I’ve got my family back and that’s one of the the the huge things that you do get when, when when you start talking and when you realise. 

00:13:01 Darren 

That you, you. 

00:13:02 Darren 

Are alone in what you’re suffering from? 

00:13:04 Darren 

It how many? 

00:13:04 Darren 

Could be any illness. 

00:13:05 Darren 

But once you start to hear other people’s stories about that same illness, about the same problem, you’re going through, it just helps you to know that there are more people out there. 

00:13:14 Darren 

Rather than you being. 

00:13:15 Darren 

Stuck on that path and and not. 

00:13:18 Darren 

Sitting any deviation. 

00:13:20 Darren 

From the. 

00:13:22 Darren 

The fact that you’ve got people who can walk beside you in a way, it helps tremendously. So what? What would your advice be then to somebody think you know, you might have heard of. 

00:13:31 Tim 

Andy’s man club thinking. 

00:13:32 Tim 

Of thinking of coming along, but maybe. 

00:13:35 Tim 

Nervous about doing so? What? 

00:13:36 Tim 

Would your advice be and what can they expect from that? 

00:13:38 Tim 

First time they. 

00:13:39 Darren 

Turn up. It’s not to overthink it. 

00:13:42 Darren 

All you’re doing is going along and meeting a bunch of guys who are like minded and we don’t. We don’t drag you in. It’s the most important thing is it you’re going in under your own steam so it will just be a case of. 

00:13:53 Darren 

Right. Like you hear from Andy’s man Club and sometimes that’s enough of a welcome for the guys to go well, I am. But you know, I’m really nervous. I’m really anxious about it. So I just said, OK, then come in. We’re introducing it to a few people. There’s no obligation to talk. 

00:14:09 Darren 

So you’re going for the door. You get welcomed and everyone there is welcoming. It doesn’t matter what stage they’re at, where they’ve come. You know, you even the first timers, you know, the new guys will welcome new guys because it makes them really. 

00:14:24 Darren 

So he’s come and he’s and you guys as well. So we’ve got that sort of connection straight away. So we go up, we give you a cup of tea or a cup of coffee and a biscuit and then we just. 

00:14:34 Darren 

Sit you down. How it works is there’s five questions. The questions. 

00:14:38 Darren 

Work out as. 

00:14:39 Darren 

So a name and a positive reason for being there. 

00:14:43 Darren 

So that’s your first one. Ohh I’ve come in on the 1st. 

00:14:47 Darren 

Time that I’m. 

00:14:49 Darren 

So once your handyman comes about, OK, then that’s fair enough. Pass because we have a ball which we controls the room. 

00:14:56 Darren 

So whoever has the ball. 

00:14:57 Darren 

Was in control, and then you’ve got three questions. So how’s your week been? 

00:15:03 Darren 

You know, crap, good, indifferent. Yeah. And then you’ll get name a positive from your. 

00:15:09 Darren 

Week and you? 

00:15:10 Darren 

Know. Like I said, some guys really. 

00:15:11 Darren 

Struggle with this, but it’s fact. You’re it’s it’s not a cop out. 

00:15:15 Darren 

It’s a it’s it’s a. 

00:15:17 Darren 

Really good. The answer I’m here. I’m happy to be here and. 

00:15:22 Darren 

You know, just come to see what spell and then. 

00:15:25 Darren 

Anything to get up your chest, and this is the big one. So sometimes the guys who go. 

00:15:29 Darren 

You guys go. 

00:15:29 Darren 

Now I just wanna see what’s about. I’ll talk about next week or they will go fill in and tell us exactly what’s troubling them or what they’re unhappy about. Now, if you want to leave one of the guys is the facilitator. 

00:15:45 Darren 

Will go out. 

00:15:45 Darren 

With you just to check you’re OK. 

00:15:47 Darren 

If you go for. 

00:15:47 Darren 

A wee we’ll come back in. Cause don’t go in the. 

00:15:50 Darren 

Toilet with you? 

00:15:51 Darren 

If you want to leave. 

00:15:52 Darren 

Then that’s fair enough. We’re not, we’re. 

00:15:53 Darren 

Not going to hold you. 

00:15:55 Darren 

To any accountability Question 4, which is like a thinking question example, it would be. 

00:16:01 Darren 

If you could invite four people to dinner. 

00:16:04 Darren 

Who would it be? 

00:16:04 Darren 

And why? So it just gets? 

00:16:06 Darren 

Surprised, sinking. And it. And it puts the. 

00:16:07 Darren 

First three questions to bed. 

00:16:10 Darren 

And then the last question, like a really quick. 

00:16:14 Darren 

You can only. 

00:16:15 Darren 

One pie of the rest of your life. What flavour pie would it be so that some people will say apple pie or some will say steak and kidney pudding and they’ll be arguing? That’s not a pie. It’s a pudding. And and the one that always gets people. 

00:16:26 Darren 

Laughing is which way? 

00:16:27 Darren 

Would you would you have the toilet roll? 

00:16:29 Darren 

And it’s it’s a simple little thing like that, just getting guys laughing and and leaving all the baggage. 

00:16:36 Darren 

That’s in the room in the room. 

00:16:38 Darren 

Because whatever is said in an antis man club session. 

00:16:43 Darren 

Stays in that session, it doesn’t get. 

00:16:47 Darren 

Taken out, the only time this changes is if there’s a safeguarding. 

00:16:52 Darren 

So if you’ve got somebody threatening to harm themselves or others, and that and that’s taken out of our hands because that will obviously be a call to 999 or the crisis mental health team will be involved with that. That’s the only time we don’t take names. So there’s no data held about the guys. 

00:17:13 Darren 

Or anything like. 

00:17:14 Darren 

That, and if the guys want to. 

00:17:16 Darren 

Next week, come next week and that’s how it works. You’ll get guys who don’t turn up three or four weeks and they’ll come again and go. I’ve really missed it. 

00:17:24 Darren 

Because Monday is my routine. 

00:17:26 Darren 

I can just think right on Monday I can go in and let it all out and then the right week ahead. All good. And then then get around to member again. That’s just, that’s the simple premise of how Andy’s man Club works. 

00:17:38 Tim 

Well you you’ve explained it brilliantly. 

00:17:40 Tim 

Darren, thank you ever. 

00:17:41 Tim 

So much, and if anything, there’s free tea and biscuits, so there’s. 

00:17:43 Tim 

There’s a reason to. 

00:17:44 Darren 

Go actually. Yeah, that’s one. 

00:17:48 Tim 

Fantastic. Listen, thank you. Good time. I really, really appreciate it and I wish you well and and listen and good luck with with Andy’s man Club and it would be good to keep in touch. 

00:17:57 Darren 

Yes, certainly we will do. Thanks very much. 

00:18:00 Tim 

That’s it for this bonus episode. But if you feel you need to talk to someone in regard to your mental health, you’ll find some suggestions for organisations you can talk to today, including Andy’s Man Club in the episode notes. 

00:18:11 Tim 

Don’t forget you can keep the conversation going, but answering our bonus episode question, which this week is quite simply how has poor mental health impacted your life? 

00:18:21 Tim 

You can answer it on your mobile. 

00:18:22 Tim 

Via the Spotify both this episode page. 

00:18:25 Tim 

A link to which can be found in the. 

00:18:27 Tim 

Episode notes or through the link view. 

00:18:28 Tim 

Site in the. 

00:18:29 Tim 

Show profile. You can also interact with the show by sending us. 

00:18:32 Tim 

A voice message. We’d love to hear what you think as well as your. 

00:18:35 Tim 

Ideas for topics? 

00:18:36 Tim 

And things you’d like us to cover. Just head to the bonus episode notes. All the links you site for. 

00:18:41 Tim 

More details and the link to do so. 

00:18:43 Tim 

And finally, if you’ve enjoyed the show, please leave us a review and subscribe on whatever platform you. 

00:18:48 Tim 

Usually get your podcasts. 

00:18:50 Tim 

In the meantime. 

00:18:51 Tim 

Though look after yourselves and I’ll see you for another regular episode sometime soon. Take care. 

What do you think?

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.