Gosport branch of Andy's Man Club mental health group is set to launch
and live on Freeview channel 276
It will be run by Hamble teacher Steve Fletcher along with his friend Adam Bland, a Gosport man who currently serves in the Royal Navy as a survival equipment technician.
Steve, who is originally from Leeds and now teaches at a Southampton school, feels a strong connection to Portsmouth as he spent five years teaching in the area.
He decided to launch a new Andy’s Man Club in Gosport after reading about the charity online.
He said: ‘After I found out about them, I wanted to bring it down to Hampshire.
‘There’s many of the Andy’s Man Clubs up north, and I think there’s a need for one down here.’
The charity started life as just one group in Halifax, and now Andy’s Man Clubs offer support to men at locations across the country.
Steve initially intended to launch a Gosport branch of the group last year, but the coronavirus outbreak meant that he needed to postpone his plans.
Now, the group will host its first meeting on March 1, and the organisers are inviting men in the area to come and have a drink and a chat.
Despite lockdown restrictions, the new Andy’s Man Club is permitted to hold meetings as mental health groups are allowed to meet.
Steve, who also runs community football project Solent Sports FC, said: ‘Men need somewhere they can go and talk about their feelings.
‘It’s completely non-judgemental, run by your peers - we’re not mental health workers, it’s just a case of going to talk with a group of mates.
‘The main thing is about tackling male suicide, which is the biggest killer of men under 45, more than cancer, more than car crashes.
‘It’s like pressing the reset button each week. You just turn up, have a cup of tea or coffee, and talk about five questions, and we finish on something to uplift the mood.’
Steve is running the club with his friend Adam, and the two have known each other for about a year.
Adam, who was born and raised in Gosport and lives there with his wife and three children, said: ‘We found out that we are both keen on helping out with mental health, especially getting other lads to talk.
‘When Steve asked if I was interested in setting up a club locally, it was a no-brainer.
‘That’s something that I felt was missing in the area and the opportunity to help bring Andy’s Man Club to Gosport and hopefully other local areas was too important to turn down.’
Both Andy and Steve hope that the success of the Gosport group will lead to other branches across the region.
Andy said: ‘It’s okay to talk - no matter what might be on your mind, sharing it in a safe environment can make an incredible difference to your outlook.’
Find out more at www.andysmanclub.co.uk.