My journey with ANDYSMANCLUB – Gary Clarke Facilitator Peterborough AMC I first met Luke Ambler at a Prison Service Conference in early 2017 when I was the Safer Custody Manager at HMP/YOI Peterborough, this role meant I was dealing with prisoners who self-harmed and a number who sadly took their own lives, this triggered my desire and passion to make a difference. Luke then visited the prison towards the end of 2017 and the seeds were sown to start an AMC Group in Peterborough.
The Peterborough group started on the 9th July 2018 and has gone from strength to strength over this time. During this time I had been dealing with my own personal issues most of these were connected to a chronic eye condition I have called keratoconus – deformed corneas – without specialist care and made to measure contact lenses I would be registered blind. Most of the time I manage this condition well and can function normally but occasionally it can flare up causing soreness and pain in the eyes meaning I can’t wear my lenses, when this happens I am unable to work or function normally. I had always been open and honest with my employer and up until I had a new manager start at the prison it had never been issue. My condition is covered by the Equalities Act and until the manager started all adjustments had been made at work for me to be able to continue my career in the Prison Service.
My new manager made it very clear early on that he would not support prolonged periods of amended duties or absence, to quote “I have beaten the disability act before and I will beat it again”. From this period forward he made my life as difficult as possible and coerced my direct line manager to be part of this bullying campaign. To cut a long story short this campaign drove me to the brink of suicide after I had another flare up and period of absence from work. On my return to work in March/April 2018 the campaign intensified and despite my approaching my line manager and other managers asking for help nothing but bullying was forthcoming. This resulted in me making a mistake at work that led to my suspension and ultimate dismissal from the Prison this bringing a 29-year career to an end and my world crashing down around me.
During this time and up to me losing my job the support offered by AMC was immense. Even though I facilitate the Peterborough group I also use it and without it I’m really not sure I would be here today to tell you this story, this is the first time I have admitted this.
The group is non-judgemental and nothing but supporting, it gives us a safe space to talk about how we really feel and get support and advice from men who have or are going through the same issues, so when someone says “I know how you feel” they really do mean it. ANDYSMANCLUB has saved lives and will continue to save lives and I will continue to facilitate and use AMC as long as the need is there.
AMC you saved my life