This week, we sat down for a chat with Paul Carver, owner of Dancestars Bradford our venue in the city for almost 12 months! We were in Bradford for a media interview featuring one of our facilitators in the city, Kapil Patel.
How did you first get involved with ANDYSMANCLUB?
My first involvement with ANDYSMANCLUB was offering our venue, Dancestars dance studio, as a location for Andys Man Club Bradford to host its face-to-face sessions. I’ve always had an interest in doing something to support mental health as my Granddad took his own life without warning when I was 13. This had a profound effect on me personally so when I saw on Facebook that ANDYSMANCLUB needed a venue, I looked across at my missus and said, we’ve got a venue, let’s do it! During the pandemic, there was a lot of disruption to everyone’s schedule and to be able to help provide the men of Bradford with a place they could get things off their chest was a no-brainer.
Give us some background on your business and your venue
Dancestars as a business started 17 years ago in BD6 operating out of a community centre, and in 2017 we moved to our second permanent venue on Sunbridge Road and we’re continuing to go from strength to strength. We’ve got two massive main dance studios which are used most nights of the week for dance classes and a big reception area – we’re happy to keep it all free on a Monday night for AMC.
What is it like hosting AMC on a Monday night? Are there any challenges?
It is honestly plain-sailing! It works seamlessly, the facilitators are great and on the rare occasion that I’m not here on a Monday night, the team are in regular contact with me, have their own key and I trust them to open up and lock up the venue themselves. They are never a problem and there is a complete level of trust between us. It feels great for us to be able to give something to such a worthy, needed and necessary cause.
Have you used the session yourself?
Absolutely! I didn’t know or think I was going to but after sitting in one session, I’ve made sure I’m at the sessions every Monday now – I even move other things in my diary so I can attend every week.
What would you say to anyone debating coming to a group?
Do it – it’s easier said than done, it can be the most daunting thing in the world – walking up to a group of guys that you don’t know, not knowing what you are going to be walking into. That first step across the threshold could change your life – it’s really empowering and even if you don’t say anything on your first session, just sitting there, having a brew, listening to other blokes and being a part of it can really release some shackles off of you to start talking yourself.
What would your advice be to anyone who could potentially offer AMC a venue?
Again – do it! If you’ve got a venue and you have the scope and availability to do it and open on a Monday night then do it. It is a really empowering feeling knowing that you’re doing something to help a charity, and it’s not just any charity. We can all put a quid in a charity pot at a shop but you don’t actually always see the direct result of that. If you are in a position where you can offer a venue to a group of blokes, be it six blokes or fifty blokes that turn up on a Monday – you are saving lives, you’re giving them somewhere to go, somewhere to talk and it is one of the best things I’ve ever done – if there was a cost to us as a business, we’d still do it without a shadow of a doubt.