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Remembering my brother with Andy’s Man Club

In our next article, to highlight the impact of Ardonagh Community Trust’s (ACT) work to help communities, we share the story of Phil Moss, a Customer Operations Manager for Atlanta. Here Phil tells how his brother’s tragic death led to his search to find a way to help others who are struggling with their mental health, and how by supporting Andy’s Man Club with an ACT community grant of £4,500, he is helping the charity to open in more locations.

Please note, this article contains references to suicide.

Remembering my brother with Andy's Man Club

As told by Phil Moss

My brother Paul was just 34 when he took his life, and his children were very young – just one and three. He didn’t like to have his photo taken and his daughter had just two pictures of them together. Neither of his children would remember the sound of his voice.

It was coming up to the anniversary of his death and I was looking through some old camcorder footage from one of my own children’s birthdays and there he was, in the background, chasing after his daughter who was scooting across the floor on a ride-on toy. You could hear him talking. I shared the film with his children and created a still picture for them. My niece had the picture framed. His children were both amazed to hear him for the first time. These are the things you don’t think of when you lose somebody like this – two children who can’t remember the sound of their own father’s voice.

Paul pictured with his daughter in a garden
Paul, Phil's brother, pictured with his daughter.

My brother had struggled with depression for a long time. One day he didn’t come into work and one of his work colleagues called round to his house and found him. My mum was out shopping and I was at work when the police called and we all had to rush to my mum’s where they told us the news. The police asked me to identify his body. It’s something that still plays on my mind.

As a family we pulled together, we have a good family. We supported one another through this, but it has been hard because there were so many unanswered questions. We knew he had his troubles, but we never expected that he would go to that extreme. There’s just so much uncertainty and we will never get closure – we will never know 100% why he did this.

There are so many things I miss about him – he was very good at fixing things and doing odd jobs around the house. Now my father has passed away it’s just me and my mum left in the family I grew up with. He should be here with us and there’s a sense of loneliness that never quite passes.

I wanted to do something positive in my brother’s memory and Andy’s Man Club is something which gives me real hope – you see their work is making a real difference. They want to give men a space to talk openly about their feelings at groups all across the country. The more we talk, the more support there is and hopefully the more opportunities we have to stop people losing their lives to suicide. That’s why I wanted to offer them support through an Ardonagh Community Trust grant.

I was really pleased to be able to tell the charity I had secured funding for them. They were absolutely made up and it feels incredible to be able to offer support to others in my brother’s memory. They have since confirmed that the money was used to help the opening of several new clubs in areas that were previously unserved.

Members of Andy's Man Club get together for an event

The biggest thing for me was building something positive out of absolutely tragic circumstances. I can’t change what’s already happened, but I can change it for somebody else, for another family. If it saves just one person’s life that’s great and it’s all happening in Paul’s memory. And perhaps most importantly, I get to tell my mum that the money is already having an impact and saving lives.

I’m grateful that approaches to mental health are so much better now – it’s there in the workplace, there are charities and organisations like Andy’s Man Club who are dedicated to offering support to people who are struggling. It would previously have been taboo for many men to talk about their struggles with mental health but now there is so much more support available, places you can go, where people will really understand your difficulties. Suicide isn’t inevitable, help is out there, we just need to make sure people can access that help.

Andy’s Man Club was founded after the unexpected suicide of my brother-in-law, Andy Roberts (pictured right), a 23-year-old father from Halifax. Myself and his mother, Elaine Roberts, were determined to prevent other families going through the pain of losing a family member to suicide - so we set up Andy's Man Club. The aim of Andy’s Man Club is to end the cultural and societal stigma surrounding mental health and male suicide by normalising speaking openly about feelings and thoughts. As a group we operate free to attend, peer-to-peer talking sessions for men over the age of 18 in over 70 locations nationwide. These groups operate every Monday night at 7pm excluding Bank Holidays and it is our aim to have a group operating within 30 minutes travel of every man in the UK. Receiving a grant from The Ardonagh Community Trust means the world to us at Andy’s Man Club. We are a donation-led charity and any funds we receive are invested straight into the opening of new clubs, staffing and support for our existing clubs and facilitators. This grant has undoubtedly accelerated our growth as a movement. Specifically, this grant has enabled us to open new groups in the towns of Liverpool, York, Barnsley, Chelmsford and Cleckheaton, and add additional venues to our offering in Dundee and Leeds. The grant has gone towards costs for venue hire at some of those locations, providing snacks and refreshments to the men attending these group and has also been invested in marketing in these areas. We’d like to say a massive thanks from all staff and volunteers at Andy’s Man Club to Phil Moss, and The Ardonagh Community Trust for their generous support. Helping us spread the word helps us to save lives and ultimately save that one man in his time of need.
Luke Ambler, Chairman of Andy’s Man Club
Poster featuring details of how Andy's Man Club can support they're peers

Help is available at Andy’s Man Club at locations across the country. Talking groups open every Monday from 7pm, excluding bank holidays. Find out more on the Andy’s Man Club website.

Further support for when you or someone else needs time to talk

Samaritans is available day or night across the UK and Ireland, for anyone who is struggling to cope or just needs someone to listen without judgement or pressure. Their vision is that fewer people die by suicide and by providing the right support, Samaritans believe it's something that can be prevented.

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Read stories about the people and projects we have supported so far on the ACT website.

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If you have any questions, reach out to the ACT team using info@ardonaghtrust.org.