Yorkshire-based integrated agency, The Bigger Boat, has gifted peer support network ANDYSMANCLUB with a newly-launched website to the tune of £20,000 – as it names the organisation as its charity of the year.
The announcement follows a stark increase in demand for the group’s services which has seen ANDYSMANCLUB open the doors to its 100th venue, following a 70% uplift in attendance since the pandemic began. This spike is likely an undesirable consequence of the UK lockdown, which saw loneliness and isolation peak as the option for face-to-face support ground to a halt.
In place of in-person support, the website provided a vital lifeline for many. But, unable to cope with the ever-increasing numbers of those seeking assistance it regularly crashed, leaving people with limited means through which to access the information needed to reach out for help.
Hearing of the difficulties, The Bigger Boat was inspired to help. Having pledged its support, the team was soon tasked with an important brief to develop a website which would direct men in need, or family members hoping to assist a loved one, to access support via their nearest groups as quickly and easily as possible.
On the agency’s backing of the charity, Andy McCaul, director at The Bigger Boat, said: “Having friends of the business that worked for the organisation and being a company that’s already passionate about the importance of mental health, we invited ANDYSMANCLUB to speak to the team about men’s mental health and to tell us more about the support that the group provides.
“Inspired by what we’d heard, and keen to do everything we could to help, it became apparent that the charity was in desperate need of a new website if it was to continue expanding its reach and delivering maximum benefit to those needing a listening ear during times of struggle.
“We’re proud to have now launched the site and played a small part in helping ANDYSMANCLUB to continue delivering its vital work — not only supporting men through times of difficulty, but also changing attitudes among a demographic that’s not famed for its ability to speak openly about their battles. Ultimately, through the new website, we hope to enable more people to reach out for help and hopefully, save lives.”
Although there is no intention to replace the face-to-face format which continues to prove vital for so many facing tumultuous times, the group’s online presence has become ever more important – having enabled the organisation to support those from further afield, including Houston, Texas and Moscow.
Lucas Whitehead, marketing manager, from ANDYSMANCLUB, said: “The increase in men coming forward to access our support networks is both as heartening as it is concerning. The fact that men are beginning to open up about their struggles is a really positive sign — and represents a shift that will, without a doubt, save many lives.
“With a website that’s now capable of directing men to their nearest group in times of difficulty, we can be sure to do our very best in supporting people living through their hardest times — so that husbands, brothers, fathers, and sons, can continue to return home to their loved ones, preventing families from suffering the heart wrenching losses that so many of us have experienced.
“Thank you once again to The Bigger Boat for its incredible support, a hugely generous donation of time and expertise. We know that the work will create a huge impact for our team, the men that we support, and their families.”
ANDYSMANCLUB is a UK-wide peer support network which runs talking groups for men who are experiencing emotional and mental health struggles. Spreading the poignant message that ‘it’s okay to talk’, the group launched in 2016 with just nine attendees. By 2020, the organisation had 1,000 men attending sessions nationwide. Following the pandemic, this figure snowballed — with the gatherings now regularly attracting 1,700 attendees per week.