Founder of Menfulness and Yorkey Dads
Q Owl or lark? Lark—not out of choice. I fall asleep in front of the TV every night.
Q What did you want to be when you grew up? Actor, specifically for the Royal Shakespeare Company, or work at an orangutan rescue centre—my kindred spirit.
Q Any hobbies? Big rugby fan. I follow York Knights RLFC, and going to the gym. I’ve always had a dream of combining karaoke and spinning classes—‘Spin Sing’.
Q Favourite holiday destination and why? Greece, Halkadiki. The people are wonderful, and the food is the best in the world.
Q Who is your biggest inspiration? My daughter Poppy. Poppy has severe epilepsy and cerebral palsy but she doesn’t let this stop her from enjoying life. Her tenacity, determination and sense of fun motivates me everyday to be a better person. I can’t mention Poppy without mentioning Henry, my son. He is the glue that keeps us all together and I’m so proud of the man he is becoming—protective, loving and fun.
Q Watching sport or playing sport? Playing sport, although my body would disagree with me.
Q Night out or night in? Night out, although it’s been a while.
Q Who would you have at a dinner party and why? David Attenborough, Nelson Mandela, Adele (just for her laugh, not her music) and Ricky Gervais.
Q I couldn’t get through the weekend without…? Coffee (Menfulness brand of course: www.cloudgatecoffee.com/product-page/the-brew-chat-blend).
Q What is your proudest moment? When I married my wife Rose. I’m totally batting above my average!
Q What is your background?
I’m one of 6 boys. My Mum and Dad, although now long separated, did an amazing job raising us all. I only have happy memories of my childhood and my brothers are my best friends. (Please don’t tell them I said this!)
In 2001 I moved up to York for University where I met my wife Rose. We married in 2009, and two bundles of joy followed. With work and home life going well, life seemed perfect with my future all planned out. However, things changed after I found myself suddenly made redundant. It hit me hard and I felt like life spiralled. It took me to some dark places. I had feelings that I have never experienced before, including hopelessness and overwhelming sadness. After months of trying to deal with this alone and after much encouragement from my wife, I finally made an appointment to see my GP. That was the first big step towards a happier me.
So that’s my story in a nutshell. This actually may be the first time my family and friends have heard this. Ironically the main goal of Menfulness is encouraging men to talk! So there it is lads. There is no shame, only strength, in accessing help and support. It’s not weak to speak. This is my inspiration for Menfulness #WeRiseByLiftingOthers #DontManUpSpeakUp
Q How did the idea for Menfulness come about?
Menfulness is led by five blokes from York who, like most of us, have struggled with mental health and the pressures of life. We are a men’s social wellbeing group who—through activities and counselling—support and promote improvement in men’s lives.
Q What is the main goal of the group?
We bring men together to socialise, exercise, enjoy themselves, talk and let off steam in a non-judging, friendly and supportive environment. These are all essential for wellbeing and health, both physical and mental.
We’ve been lucky to find strength in opening up about where we’re at with our fellow man, and we think this should be available to us all.
As our network grows more men are joining us, many of whom are being supported to bring their own ideas into action.
Q What does the group do to achieve this goal?
Through social sessions, educational talks and by raising awareness through traditional and social media, the boys are leading the fight to help men realise that it’s sometimes okay to not be okay, and even more, it’s okay to talk.
Q Tell us a bit more about the activities that you offer
We have a walk and talk group, three chilled footy meet-ups, retro gaming nights, a cycling group and a talk group. We are on all the socials and we have about ten different Whatsapp groups.
Q How many people volunteer with you and how many members do you have?
We are all volunteers, about fifty all in all. We have around a thousand guys coming to our activities.
Q As a community interest company – do you receive any support, funding or grants from anywhere? If not, how do you raise funds to support the group?
Most of our funding comes from our fundraisers. I have to give a shout out to our friends at The Grand Opera House, Poppleton Football Club, Acomb Cricket Club, York RI Rugby Club, The Crooked Tap, York Round Table and Charlie Lancaster Foundation, Pop Up York and Athame Creatives. If it wasn’t for our friends we wouldn’t be able to do half as much as we do. So thank you so much.
Q Do you work alongside any other organisations? What support is available?
Yes loads, we couldn’t do the work without the support of our friends and partners.
Serendipity Counselling provide affordable an counselling service.
York Knights RLFC host our talk groups, including our newest ambassador Brendan O’Hagan.
City of York Football Club.
Jorvik Radio, who host our two weekly Menfulness shows.
Wigginton Tennis Club for hosting our free lessons.
Roko, who host our chilled footy club.
York Social Vision and Pete Quinn Consultancy, for constant support throughout.
Cloud Gate Coffee.
Spirit of Yorkshire Distillery.
Better Gym, Complete Life Fitness, Legions Gym, Ouch Potato and 1079 Fitness.
Q What would you say to any men out there currently struggling?
Firstly, it is ok to struggle and, accepting that you are struggling, is important. What is also important is reaching out for support. You are not alone and help is available. #Dontmanupspeakup
Q How can they get in touch?
We have loads of ways of getting in touch, including website and all the socials. Find all the details here: https://biglink.to/Menfulness