Every Monday evening at 7pm, men arrive at Harrogate College to have a chat with a coffee and a biscuit.
While it may seem mundane, the same is happening at 172 other locations across England at the same time.
Andy’s Man Club was set up with the simple goal of helping men to talk through their issues and help each other deal with their mental health.
Its latest club at Harrogate College was set up in January and saw 63 people attend on its first night.
The Stray Ferret paid a visit this week and spoke with its facilitators Andy King and Jonathan Clipston prior to their third session of the year.
‘I just thought we have got to do it’
Andy and Jonathan, who are lead facilitators in Harrogate, arrive early to set up the room and have the coffee and biscuits prepared next to the entrance — an essential for any meeting.
Andy explains that he has been involved with the charity since January 2023 after losing a friend and work colleague to suicide.
He attended a meeting in Kirkstall and then later in Tadcaster after a particularly low point in his life. He then decided that he should set up a club locally.
“I just thought that we have got to do it.
“We don’t talk about challenges to our best mates. So I thought that this was a place to do that.”
Meanwhile, Jonathan first attended an Andy’s Man Club meeting in York in April 2022 and later trained as a facilitator for the charity.
He suffered a serious car accident some 30 years ago which led to his right arm being amputated below the elbow.
“There was nothing like this then.”
The charity itself was set up by Elaine Roberts and Luke Ambler after Andrew Roberts, Elaine’s son and Luke’s brother-in-law, took his own life aged 23 in 2016.
It held its first session in Halifax, Andrew’s hometown, and now helps to support more than 3,000 men on a weekly basis at more than 170 locations.
Harrogate, which became the 173rd location, was launched with the backing of Dominic Brunt, who plays Paddy Kirk in television soap Emmerdale.
The response has been dramatic. Some 63 men attended the branch on its first night and 47 on its second – 18 of which were attending Andy’s Man Club for the first time.
‘Andy’s Man Club saved my life’
The sessions follow a simple format.
Each meeting has five questions which include “how was your week?” and “anything to get off your chest?” The session then moves onto lighter topics, the questions of which change each week.
There is no obligation to speak, however those that wish to speak will be thrown a ball to signal that it is their turn to talk.
The idea behind the meetings is that they are judgement-free and held in a non-clinical environment.
Sessions are held every Monday from 7pm to 9pm, except on bank holidays.
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Elliot, a facilitator at Andy’s Man Club in York, is in Harrogate helping Andy and Jonathan with their latest session.
He has been involved with the charity since 2019 and says he “would not be here” without it.
“Andy’s Man Club saved my life.”
He says part of the reason for the sessions is to let the men speak in their own time. But it’s also to create an affinity with each other.
“It’s about bonding the lads. That’s what is really important.”
The following day, the Harrogate club posts that 44 men attended the meeting — 11 of whom came to Andy’s Man Club for the first time.
On its website, the charity describes itself as “a bunch of blokes having a chat over a brew and biscuit”.
But, for some, it is much more than that.