November 2019 Open Meeting Report

Disability Partnership Calderdale’s November 2019 Open Meeting featured two important guest speakers, Ryan from Andy’s Man Club and Kristan from Skillshop, plus a round up of the organisation’s recent activities from our workers.

Andy’s Man Club

Ryan, who is also a member of Disability Partnership Calderdale, was the guest speaker on behalf of the ground-breaking Andy’s Man Club, a voluntary organisation which holds meetings for men at a growing number of venues across the country. The focus of the meetings is supporting men with mental health issues through shared experience and support from other men.

Andy’s Man Club describes itself as running “non judgmental, talking groups for men. We are the creators of the viral #ITSOKAYTOTALK movement. Our overall aim is to halve the number of suicides in men Under 45. I know that’s a massive task, but it’s something to strive for. Even if we only manage a quarter – we will have done something amazing.”

Ryan spoke about his own involvement in the movement, stemming from his own mental health problems and he described a typical meeting, where everyone is welcome, everyone is encouraged to speak and share experiences, good and bad, and how every meeting has at least some time devoted to positive and humorous anecdotes. Ryan’s own experiences have convinced him of the effectiveness of Andy’s Man Club’s approach and he continues to attend meetings regularly and to benefit from them.

Andy’s Man Club meets at Halifax’s Shay Stadium ever Monday evening at 7pm (except Bank Holidays). There are also branches across the area, with Huddersfield and Hebden Bridge both hosting regular meetings. Find out more about Andy’s Man Club on their website, where there is also a directory of meeting locations.

Ryan hopes to join us at future Disability Partnership Calderdale meetings, where he will be available to talk to anyone interested in the movement or who perhaps has mental health issues of their own.


Kristan from Skillshop is becoming an old friend of Disability Partnership Calderdale and we have been wanting him to speak at one of our Open Meetings for some time. He spoke about the origins of Skillshop, which was set up by his family to support Kristan’s brother, who is himself disabled.

Kristan explained how Skillshop is a day centre for adults with a range of disabilities and how they provide encouragement, build confidence and developing life skills through a range of activities such as woodwork, arts and crafts, fitness, gardening skills, general life skills.

Kristan also brought with him several of Skillshop’s clients, who joined in a questions and answers session at the end of Kristan’s presentation.

We were also pleased to be able to share with the audience a video we shot during a visit to Skillshop back in September, which you can see below:

Skillshop’s website is a good source of information about their activities –

Worker Update

Julie and Phil, our workers, then updated the audience on their recent work which has included visiting a range of organisations, ranging from the Council and local health authorities, through to voluntary organisations representing a variety of disability groups across Calderdale.

Of particular interest to many was Julie’s account of how feedback from Disability Partnership Calderdale’s members, gathered through a recent consultation on our website, is now being taken to the local Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG). This is an important piece of work, which our members have contributed to in a very positive way and which we hope will bring about some important changes, particularly in the treatment of deaf people during visits to the hospital and in the way car parking is organised.

You can read separately on our website about the feedback we received from the CCG consultation.

The evening ended with an invitation to all attendees to stay on and chat to our trustees. We had some very interesting discussions and enjoyed some very positive networking. Thank you to everyone who came along to attend the meeting.