ANDY’s MAN CLUB
OUR CHARITY PARTNER
We are truly humbled by our relationship with this amazing charity, based in our home town of Halifax, West Yorkshire.
Established only a couple of months before we discovered Halifax ourselves, Andy’s Man Club was set up to tackle the issue of male suicide, with completed suicides reaching what their founder and Chairman of Trustees, Luke Ambler, has referred to as epidemic proportions.
When Andy Roberts took his own life in April 2016 it ripped the heart out of his family.
Luke, Andy’s brother-in-law, a charismatic and inspiring former rugby-league player who had already been shaped by other mental ill-health in the family, looked for hope in the situation asked himself, “what’s next?” He went on to create, at that time, the most successful viral mental health social media campaign ever using the ‘OK’ symbol featured above and the hashtag #itsokaytotalk.
Together with Andy’s mum, Elaine, they then started a coffee club for lads. The founding principle of that group was the same then as it is today — to provide a safe space for men to talk and offer each other peer-to-peer support in a confidential, non-judgmental setting, regardless of age, education, race or status. Attend any Andy’s Man Club group and you’ll see that all men stand equal, a brotherhood of mutual understanding often arising from years of unspoken pain.
From that first meeting of 9 lads at The Shay Stadium in Halifaxin June 2016, the group continues to meet every Monday from 7pm. Only now more than 500 lads attend each week across the charity’s 20 UK-based groups located from Scotland to the south coast.
We speak first-hand about the impact of Andy’s Man Club. As our founder, Oli, describes it:
there is something magical at these groups, you can literally see the weight lifting from their shoulders
Oli, like so many, has not only had his own mental ill health battles but also lived a life touched by suicide. Consistent with his approach to bringing meaning to Piece it Together Design, his own experiences are what motivated him to first make, and now continue contact with the group. At the end of 2016 Oli was genuinely concerned about his struggles to reach out to his own older brother, the rock who had supported him in the past. This coincided with him finding out about Andy’s Man Club and he had no hesitation in wholeheartedly backing the cause.
By a chance suggestion, Andy’s Man Club also became our first customer. In recognition of our gratitude and to support their continued work, we donate all our profits from the direct sales of their pin badge and keyrings through our own channels. In addition, when we sell any of our other products we commit to donating 10% of those profits to the charity.
An MHFA mental health first aid champion, Oli continues to support mental health awareness and periodically blogs on the subject in addition to his other activities. Read about some of his experiences below.
And the older brother? He recovered.