A SUPPORT group has launched in Alloa in a bid to offer an avenue and a safe space for men to talk.

Andy's Man Club is offering free peer-to-peer support to men with a group meeting each Monday, except bank holidays, at Hawkhill Community Centre between 7pm and 9pm.

The club was brought to the Wee County by Alloa's George Peat on Monday, April 15,  in memory of local gent and family member  Richard (Ritchie) Maxwell who unfortunately passed away in August last year.

George was keen to take action in Clackmannanshire after Richard’s wife Paula expressed how there are limited resources or opportunities available for men who may be struggling with mental health to open up or seek support.

Following the inaugural meeting, George told the Advertiser: “We had nine people attending – and some hard stories coming out.

“People opened up a wee bit and spoke about their lives which was really good for our first meeting.”

As a funeral director with the Co-op in Alloa, George has gained an insight into how the number of people with mental health issues is increasing in the area and has personally been affected by suicide as well.

In starting the club, he hopes to provide a safe, non-judgemental place where men can go and speak before it may be too late.

“Suicide is something we deal with on a weekly basis as funeral directors”, George continued.

“Suicide, I've been dealing with myself since I was 16-years-old, had friends who had taken their own lives and see the impact this has on everyone both personally and professionally 

“It's something I am trying to help prevent in the local community – I can maybe help people before they go into that dark corner.”

Across the UK, Andy's Man Club charity supports dozens of groups that all meet during the same Monday time slot, meaning those who might be travelling can easily pop into clubs around the country.

The charity takes its name from Andrew Roberts, who sadly took his own life in early 2016, aged just 23.

He was a father, son, brother, grandson, nephew, cousin and good friend but his family had no inkling that he was struggling.

As a nationwide movement, the aim of Andy's Man Club is to eliminate the stigma surrounding mental health while offering a confidential space where men can open up and share or simply listen.

Looking ahead, George hopes to grow the Alloa club and ensure men over the age of 18 have a place to talk about the storms in their lives.

George added: “It's a safe place where men can come and talk.

“And they don't have to talk, they can just sit and listen.”

Men can head along to the Hawkhill Community Centre meeting each Monday from 7pm or visit andysmanclub.co.uk for more information or to find other groups in the UK.