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This week we had a chat with Elliot Gorman, Lead Facilitator of Luke’s Lads, a mental health and wellbeing project run by the charity, Timestep Community Dance, for men, women (butterflies), teenagers, young adults and new parents set up after 25-year old Luke Naylor sadly took his own life. Luke found it difficult to open up to people when struggling with his Mental Health and in darker times, he would always turn to his passions of weightlifting and fitness. In Luke’s memory, his family and friends set up Luke’s Lads, a group centring around fitness and encouraging participants to talk about their Mental Health in an alternative environment. Elliot spoke with ANDYSMANCLUB about Luke’s Lads and the vital work they are doing:

Why did you first get involved with Luke’s Lads?

“I got involved with Luke’s Lads and created our group sessions as Luke was my best friend and played such a huge part in my life. I had an overwhelming feeling inside that I needed to help others not only after this huge tragedy but I have always felt this my entire life and this was my calling. For someone like myself, who has experienced mental health issues, this is something I am committed to and passionate about.” 

How important is mental wellbeing in improving physical wellbeing, and vice versa?

“In my opinion they’re both vital for one another. The feeling you get after a workout, walk, run, bike etc can be massively uplifting. After the past year we’ve had due to COVID, I feel like exercise has been an effective coping mechanism for a large number of people, giving them a focus outside of work.” 

“Talking about thoughts and feelings as well as plucking up the energy to do exercise can be a very similar experience. You may not want to do either at the time, but I can assure you once you have done either you feel so much better than you did before.” 

How much change have you seen in group attendees since setting up?

“We have seen plenty of progress in the guys who have attended both physically and mentally. We have encouraged some participants to do more exercise outside of the group and we have encouraged people to communicate with people close to them when they may not have felt comfortable doing so before.”

“It has become a self-sufficient group, each and every person is there to support one another. There is no judgement and it’s humbling to see people use their experiences to help others who are going through something similar, and for me that’s what it’s all about, let’s make talking about mental health the norm.” 

What are the plans going forwards for LL?

“The journey from when we started to where we are now is something we never expected. We now run sessions for women, teenagers and young adults. We hope to continue to positively impact our local community to start with and then expand further in the coming months and continue to help more and more people.”

To attend ANDYSMANCLUB, email info@andysmanclub.co.uk, or to attend Luke’s Lads, email lukeslads@gmail.com.