Andys Man Club – Who Are They and What Do They Do?

it’s okay to talk
Brendan, Chris and Ben talk to us about all things AMC

Find out what they do, why they do it and the impact it’s having

Five years ago, nine men in Halifax came together and they talked. What they said isn’t important, what’s important is that they said it and that small act began a change that saved their lives.

Andy’s Man Club Origin Story

Andy’s Man Club was founded in 2016 by Luke Ambler, who was at the time a rugby league player for Halifax. It was named in honour of his brother-in-law, who took his own life after struggling with issues he felt he couldn’t talk to anyone about. Andy’s Man Club was founded to provide a place where those issues could be discussed freely, openly, without judgement with people just like you. They meet every Monday night at 7 pm across the country.

Since it started in 2016, Andy’s Man Club has grown to 48 groups nationwide as well as online sessions, all of which are provided completely free of charge. This is made possible through the work of volunteers. Called facilitators, these men are a members of the group that dedicate their time and energy to keeping the group running. I sat down with three members of the Andy’s Man Club Stafford, who also volunteer their time to help the group run: Brendon Cotton, Christopher Pendleton, and Ben Plant.
Can you describe a typical session of the Andy’s Man Club?
Christopher Pendleton: On a typical night, at 7pm, we are all in one room and we’ll be sitting around in circle. During the session obviously, there’s some rules in place. We don’t talk about religion, medication or politics, because those subjects are quite contentious. This keeps things positive as differences of opinion can make things a bit more tense.
Each week there are 5 questions. The first three are the same every session: “How was your week?”, “What was one positive thing that happened this week?” and “Have you got anything to get off your chest?” Questions 4 and 5 will be different and are used to end the session on a positive note. There’s no pressure to answer every question, they know not everyone is ready or in the right place to talk. When someone is talking, they are listened to and then their issue can be discussed with the members of the group who will offer advice and support.
What happens outside of the sessions?
Christopher Pendleton: Andy’s Man Club doesn’t end with the end of the session. We have a closed Facebook group that is open to all our members 24/7. It can be used to post problems, organise meet-ups with other members and also includes updates from the national group or head office. It’s not just a ‘Monday Night Group’. We really do our best to speak with each other. Myself and Ben, for example, will post each day along with the other facilitators.
Who attends these sessions?
Christopher Pendleton: It’s quite a wide range of guys. We have ex-military and men in the army, guys who are just general citizens of the Stafford area and outside of it. We have people from Uttoxeter, Stoke-on-Trent, Kidsgrove, Rugeley, Cannock, there’s even a guy who would drive up from Birmingham. We have people from 18 up to late 60s, all from diverse backgrounds.
Ben Plant: It’s just guys who are having a tricky time. It’s a group of guys that you know is going through exactly what you’re going through the minute you walk through the door. It’s like a brotherhood, you feel that bond, and there is no judgement because they’re in the same place you are. No matter what you’re going to say, no-one’s going to judge you.
So how can you join?
Andy’s Man Club Stafford meet every Monday at 7pm at Stafford RUFC, Blackberry Lane, Stafford ST16 2TT. You don’t need to book or tell anyone you’re going, you can just turn up on the day. 
If you’d like to find out more about AMC, you can go to their Facebook page: Andys Man Club Stafford and message to talk to one of the volunteer facilitators.

Shop Small and Save with Cup a Cha

May 26, 2021Cup a Cha’s initiative to help local businesses, Shop Small and Save, is now up and running! Buy from one of the 18 independent Stafford businesses in the scheme and get free drinks, cakes and sandwiches from the Stafford tearoom

Stafford Eats: Take Out to Help Out

May 15, 2021What’s your idea of a busy weekend? Well, for Adam Corfield, it’s sat in front of the laptop, ensuring that all systems are a-go on his new venture, Stafford Eats.

The History of the Tudor House Holistic Centre

Dec 20, 2020The Tudor House Holistic Centre is located in the rooms above No. 9, Eastgate Street, Stafford, a house whose history goes back to the 1500s. Each room is named after a former occupant; read on to find out more about them!

Help us promote the great things going on in our town, borough and county.

 

Read More

Shop Small and Save with Cup a Cha

Shop Small and Save
Cup a Cha’s Rewards Initiative to Aid Stafford Businesses

free afternoon tea? Well, if you insist!

Cup a Cha, an independent tearoom on North Walls in Stafford, has set up a rewards scheme with 18 other local independent companies. They are hoping to boost their business after covid-restrictions forced them to close or affected their sales. The scheme will allow people to get stamps at Cup a Cha every time they spend with an independent in the scheme. The stamps will be valid for a range of free items depending on the number of stamps, from a cup of coffee up to a whole afternoon tea!

Who are Cup a Cha?

In the five years since it opened, the award-winning Cup a Cha has become a staple of Stafford town centre, well-loved by locals for its friendly atmosphere, tasty menu and, of course, its royal paraphernalia. Speaking to the owner, Amy Walsh, I discovered that the royal theme, now a key part of Cup a Cha brand, was actually not a planned one!

When her grandmother passed away, Amy inherited her collection of royal crockery. As memorial to her, she decided to showcase it within her new tearoom. However, only 7 months after opening, Cup a Cha was the victim of a break-in and sadly, among the damage was her grandmother’s crockery. When their regular customers heard of the crime, they began to donate royal crockery to replace the collection. The donations came thick and fast until Amy had even more than she had started with! This influx of community support was the first step on the journey to becoming the Cup a Cha that Stafford knows and loves. Since then, the tearoom has collected over 700 pieces, has received 14 letters from members of the royal family and, in March 2019, it was awarded a royal seal of approval from the Royal Cabinet Office.
Where did the Shop Small and Save initiative come from?
Like most businesses in the hospitality industry, Cup a Cha has found the past year very difficult. However, after 6 months of closed doors, they finally opened their doors on 17th May. Amy is now looking at the rest of 2021 with hope and wants other small business to feel the same way. Knowing that many local independents had been facing the same trials she had, she took it upon herself to find some way to support them. It started with ‘Cup a Cha Loves’ – a social media campaign highlighting local companies that she wanted to support. This was a great success but Amy knew that social media campaigns can only do so much. After all, not everybody is on social media and, as anyone who has used the many platforms from Facebook to Tiktok will know, its effect is ephemeral.
Wanting to make a more lasting impact, Amy put her thinking cap on and so Shop Small and Save was born. She handpicked businesses who she’d trusted and asked them to join the rewards scheme. The best part? It costs them nothing to sign up! Yep, that’s right, Amy doesn’t want the businesses to pay Cup a Cha a penny; she just wants to help.
So how does the Shop Small and Save reward scheme work?
It’s simple! If you use any of the business in the scheme, whether you spend £1 or £10, take your receipt to Cup a Cha and you will get a stamp. Each stamp you collect is worth a little bit more so you can choose to redeem a stamp right away or add more of them to claim bigger rewards. There’s 6 rewards in total, starting with a free drink with one stamp then going through a free cake, a free sandwich, a £5 spend, a £10 spend and, as the piece de resistance, 6 stamps can be exchanged for a free afternoon tea.
So which independent Stafford businesses are a part of the scheme?
You can find all the businesses involved in the scheme in the list below:
Hair & Beauty

Barbara Pointer Facial Aesthetics and Medi Spa
Amour Hair Studio Stafford
Live & Let Dye
Oh, Honey Salon & Academy

Arts, Crafts & Design

Design by Hogan
Decor Designs by Carol
B’s Clothing and Gifts
Laser Impressions UK
The Quirky Emporium
Rainbow in the Skye
Marked One Tattoo Studio

Food & Drink

Slater’s Bar & Handcrafted Ales
Bear Hut Brownies
Kenny’s Sports Bar

Miscellaneous

Time to Float
Twinkle Bookworms
The Door Company Stafford
Salter Street Toys and Models

You can find out more about all these business by heading to Shop Small and Save page on Cup a Cha’s website, where they explain what each business does, including contact details as well as links to their websites and social media pages.

Shop Small and Save with Cup a Cha

May 26, 2021Cup a Cha’s initiative to help local businesses, Shop Small and Save, is now up and running! Buy from one of the 18 independent Stafford businesses in the scheme and get free drinks, cakes and sandwiches from the Stafford tearoom

Stafford Eats: Take Out to Help Out

May 15, 2021What’s your idea of a busy weekend? Well, for Adam Corfield, it’s sat in front of the laptop, ensuring that all systems are a-go on his new venture, Stafford Eats.

The History of the Tudor House Holistic Centre

Dec 20, 2020The Tudor House Holistic Centre is located in the rooms above No. 9, Eastgate Street, Stafford, a house whose history goes back to the 1500s. Each room is named after a former occupant; read on to find out more about them!

Help us promote the great things going on in our town, borough and county.

 

Read More

Stafford Eats: Take Out to Help Out

Stafford Eats
Take Out to Help Out

Move over Deliveroo, there’s a new app in town

What’s your idea of a busy weekend? Bit of Saturday shopping? Playing taxi for the kids? Sunday in the beer garden? Well, for Adam Corfield, it’s sat in front of the laptop, ensuring that all systems are a-go on his new community venture.

This wasn’t always the case. Pre-lockdown, Adam’s busy weekend might have been piloting a long-haul flight to America or squeezing in a bit of family time, but all that changed in March 2020 when the world came to a standstill. With almost every flight grounded, Adam found himself facing redundancy and, having no way of getting back into the air, he suddenly had quite a lot of time on his hands. An old aspiration crept back into the forefront of his mind; Adam had long wanted to start a food-related business but with the long-haul flight schedule and a young family at home, there had just never been the time. Now, he had nothing but time.

“I’m just trying to provide as much support as possible to as many places as possible.”

What is Stafford Eats?
At its most basic, Stafford Eats is a food delivery app, but Adam believes it has the potential to be far more than that.
The software was designed by UK company Local Eats, who, like Adam, are hoping to help build local communities by providing a platform to rival international corporations like Uber Eats, Deliveroo and Just Eat. They want to help eateries, grocers, butchers and other food-related companies to reach people in their local area without having to pay huge commissions to these corporations.
For Adam, this is an essential part of his decision to set-up the organisation. He wants to keep Stafford money in Stafford and plans to re-invest in the community, with donations into Stafford not-for-profits such as youth clubs, arts groups, and local charities. Stafford Eats was born from his dream of a food-related business combined with his drive to support local businesses and strengthen the local community. In his own words, “I’m just trying to provide as much support as possible to as many places as possible.”
How Stafford Eats is Supporting Local
For the first week following the launch of Stafford Eats on Wednesday 5th May, Adam donated 20p of every order to Stafford-based homeless charity, House of Bread. He hopes to be able to fundraise for a new local charity on a regular basis, spreading the donations rounds to as many of our amazing not-for-profits as possible. In addition to this, as Stafford Eat grows, it will also create jobs such as drivers and social media managers, which in turn will enable Stafford Eats to offer more opportunities to its users.
As part of his commitment to moving people over to the app, for the first three weeks, Adam offered 10% off every restaurant out of his own pocket. Even though this meant the business would make a loss, he thought it was an important promotion to show how serious he is about his support for local. He also hoped to encourage people away from the bigger apps that the Covid-19 restrictions have forced restaurants to use, despite the large commission rates. These rates have forced businesses to up their prices in order to still make enough money to keep their businesses afloat. However, with many local people also feeling the pinch, these raised prices have been a double-edged sword. The restaurants therefore are also keen to move people over to the cheaper Stafford Eats – so much so that most of them added discounts of their own!
Other Benefits of Going Local
Alongside smaller commission fees, Stafford Eats can include businesses that might be overlooked by larger companies, such as Tinklers and Aston Mill Farm Butchers and the Seasons Veg Box. They’ve even recently been able to include a local family business, Portions Caribbean Kitchen. This tiny business offer a selection of Jamaican dishes freshly made each week on a pre-order basis and a traditional roast every Sunday. Because orders must be made 48 hours in advance, Portions Caribbean Kitchen could never be part of the fast-paced mega food apps, but Stafford Eats can provide an adaptable platform to support them.
Adaptable is one of the main advantages of local, in Adam’s opinion; an opinion that was validated in just the first week. During their first weekend, Adam spotted a glowing review from one local user, ecstatic at finding vegan choices at the Chinese restaurant, Tiger Bowl. Noticing that many people who ate vegan or lactose-free diets were responding to the review about their struggle to find vegan options in Stafford, he mentioned it to the Tiger Bowl owner.  Within 24 hours, the Tiger Bowl had produced an entirely new vegan menu, exclusive to the Stafford Eats app. Adam hopes this will be a precedent for other amazing local deals, promotions and exclusive menus for Stafford Eats.
So where can you find this amazing app?
You can download it from the Apple app store for iPhone or Google Play for Android. Alternatively, you can order online at www.stafford-eats.co.uk. But it’s not just orders that will help this service thrive; the people of Stafford need to know it exists! So like them on Facebook, follow them on Instagram, share their posts and most importantly, tell your friends! Let’s give ‘Take Out to Help Out’ a Stafford twist!

Stafford Eats Landing Page

Vegan Options

Seasons Veg Box Page

Breakfast Pastries Page

Andys Man Club – Who Are They and What Do They Do?

17 Jul, 21Five years ago, nine men in Halifax came together and they talked. What they said isn’t important, what’s important is that they said it and that small act began a change that saved their lives.

Shop Small and Save with Cup a Cha

26 May, 21Cup a Cha’s initiative to help local businesses, Shop Small and Save, is now up and running! Buy from one of the 18 independent Stafford businesses in the scheme and get free drinks, cakes and sandwiches from the Stafford tearoom

Hearts and Hands – Stafford

5 Jan, 21Hearts and Hands Stafford a new not-for-profit helping those affected by COVID-19 and a reduced income: the self employed, furloughed and those who have slipped through the net.

Help us promote the great things going on in our town, borough and county.

 

Read More

Celebrating the Culture and History of Stafford

College students create artwork celebrating the culture and history of Stafford

In 2020, 1st year students studying for a BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma in Graphic Design at Stafford College brought a bit of Stafford into the classroom. Using a mix of modern media software and traditional screen printing techniques, they created posters that celebrate the culture and history of the town. Scroll down to see what they produced!

More information
about the course can be found over on the NSCG Website

What is the Graphic Design Level 3 Extended Diploma?
Graphic Design is embedded throughout our lives and culture. It is in branding, packaging, advertising, editorial, photography and even typography. The Level 3 Extended Diploma is a full-time, two-year course that teaches students the skills they’ll need to work in these booming creative industries. The course head is David Holcroft, a 12-year veteran of Graphic Design lecturing. He left his position at Salford City College to take on the Course Leader role at Stafford College in 2018.
On the course, students develop an understanding of modern design practice and industry software, including Photoshop, InDesign and Illustrator. However, it’s not all digital mod cons. Students are also encouraged to experiment with traditional media, such as photo montages, printing and illustration. Alongside practical skills, they learn how to develop ideas from research to creation, explore the history of Graphic Design and delve into how the industry works today.
Additionally, this diploma gives students the opportunity to build an exciting portfolio, a crucial tool for any professional creative. Portfolios pave the way into higher education, apprenticeships and jobs in graphic design.
The Stafford Heritage Project
According to Holcroft, the students have found the project both creatively challenging and interesting.

“They have really enjoyed exploring their local area and discovering Stafford’s rich heritage in order to create a set of letterpress style posters, produced using Adobe Illustrator and the college’s screen printing facilities.”

The college hopes to use the artwork in a local exhibition and perhaps even create a limited runoff prints. These prints would be sold in order to raise money for a local charity or community organisation.
Stafford College are currently recruiting for their next cohort to start in September 2021. So, if there are any budding creatives out there, click here for more info!
The Gallery

Abi GreenwoodWork by Abi Greenwood

Molly Geework by Molly Gee

Josh Clarkwork by Josh Clark

Ross Burlingtonwork by Ross Burlington

Tyler Brough-Smithwork by Tyler Brough-Smith

Tye Chaplinwork by Tye Chaplin

Toby Walton-Sanderswork by Toby Walton-Sanders

Seb Tideswellwork by Seb Tideswell

Sadie Thorntonwork by Sadie Thornton

Jessica Neework by Jessica Nee

Jessica Hankinwork by Jessica Hankin

Jayden Duttonwork by Jayden Dutton

Fin Bickertonwork by Fin Bickerton

Chloe Hopework by Chloe Hope

Charlotte Kneill-Boxleywork by Charlotte Kneill-Boxley

Anelia Tsvetkovawork by Anelia Tsvetkova

Alice McEwanwork by Alice McEwan

Shop Small and Save with Cup a Cha

26 May, 2021Cup a Cha’s initiative to help local businesses, Shop Small and Save, is now up and running! Buy from one of the 18 independent Stafford businesses in the scheme and get free drinks, cakes and sandwiches from the Stafford tearoom

Stafford Eats: Take Out to Help Out

15 May, 2021What’s your idea of a busy weekend? Well, for Adam Corfield, it’s sat in front of the laptop, ensuring that all systems are a-go on his new venture, Stafford Eats.

The History of the Tudor House Holistic Centre

20 Dec, 2020The Tudor House Holistic Centre is located in the rooms above No. 9, Eastgate Street, Stafford, a house whose history goes back to the 1500s. Each room is named after a former occupant; read on to find out more about them!

Help us to grow and to source and promote the great things going on in our town, borough and county.

Read More

The Staffordshire Files

Our Digital Marketing Exec, Zoe has been finding some hidden gems for us, over on Instagram.
The upcoming Staffordshire Files Podcast is just one of the inspired projects happening in and around Stafford, read on to find out more.

So, to start us off, can tell us your name(s), how old you are and where you’re based?

My name is Katie, I’m 25 years old and living in Newcastle-under-Lyme with my husband and our ridiculous 3 year old spaniel.

Can you describe your project in one sentence?

The podcast is actually quite selfish – I’m attempting to flesh out my own understanding of the varied life experiences of the people who live in the Staffordshire.

When did you start your project and what made you begin?

The idea for the podcast came about in the first lockdown – my husband and I spent it with back home with our parents. We quickly realised we knew the neighbours of our childhood homes but we didn’t even know the name of our own next door neighbour! It seemed completely ridiculous! I found out in the early stages of developing the podcast that – surprise, surprise – people are interesting! Putting the conversations I have with these individuals in a podcast lets a listener understand what I quickly learned – our neighbours are important and have rich, fulfilling lives and we can connect with each other, despite lockdown restrictions.

How has lockdown affected your project? What’s been good about it? What’s been bad?

It has become so clear to me that before lockdown, any spare time I had was wasted in binging a box set or napping to recover from being stressed all the time. Whilst the pandemic and subsequent lockdown has brought horrific levels of anxiety to my family, and every other person in the world, I’ve been trying to teach myself to be still. I found a Mary Oliver poem at the beginning of lockdown that has been my often repeated mantra (it’s called ‘Today’, definitely check it out if you need to be convinced to rest!) It took a long time to not be guilty about dedicating spare time to me and what I wanted to do.

What has been the most exciting part or event since starting your project?

We are our own worst critics – I’ve been sitting on this idea since April but have talked myself out of it every time I tried to start. Setting up the Instagram page and getting supportive messages just completely floored me! It was nice to know that people wanted connections with their local area, whether they’re born and bred Stokies or have recently emigrated from Timbuktu. Social media puts such a buffer on our connections – podcasts allow a little more closeness. You can hear an accent or a silly laugh – stuff you can’t put in an Instagram post.

What is something you wish you could go back and change, or something you wish you had known when you first started out?

This process has been so encouraging – I’m connecting with the people that make our local area alive and my only regret is that I didn’t crack on with the podcast sooner.

 
What has been your favourite interview so far and why?

I couldn’t possibly say! They’re all so varied and different. I’ve gained things from each conversation too, insights into things I want to know about, things I want to see or do, things I want to develop in myself. (I did warn you that the podcast is a selfish endeavour!)

 
What is your least favourite aspect of doing this project?

I completely detest the sound of my own voice! And I do wish I could be meeting people face to face…. I suppose it is just something we can look forward to when things get less infectious.

 
What are your future plans for the project?

Sounds crackers, but I have no idea. I’m really enjoying it so I hope it will be able to continue! We have an extensive supply of people in Staffordshire who have incredible things to say – who knows how long this will go on for!

Do you have any advice for others thinking of starting or just starting their own projects?

Honestly, just crack on! What’s the worst that could happen? If something doesn’t take off, then you just get to refocus, re-jig things until it does work for you. You’ll never know if something’s worth trying until you try it.

 
What question do you wish I had asked you and why?

I love asking people what they’re having for tea! Everyone loves talking about food and if you’re having something nice for tea that night, you’re just buzzed about! Tonight we’re celebrating the start of getting ready for Christmas with a good takeaway.

If you want to get involved with The Staffordshire Files podcast, their Instagram is @thestaffordshirefiles and their email address is thestaffordshirefilespodcast@gmail.com

Help us to grow and to source and promote the great things going on in our town, borough and county.

Read More

Stafford & Shire Featured Products

Latest Local Listings