Thrings meets Talk Club

Thrings’ recruitment lead Dan St Quintin meets Ben Akers and Gavin Thorpe, CEOs of men’s mental fitness charity Talk Club.

Dan St Quintin: What is Talk Club and what is its story?

Ben Akers: We are a charity founded in Bristol in 2019 to support men with their mental fitness through our clubs that provide a safe space for them to talk and to listen.

Gavin and I first met in 2017 when he provided music for a film I’d created in honour of my childhood best friend Steve, whose unseen mental health issues tragically caused him to take his own life. We talked about what else we could be doing to help and, having taken inspiration from some of the great things going on across the country, we created Talk Club.

Gavin Thorpe: Not long after we set up Talk Club, Miles, the brother of a very close friend of mine, died by suicide, which brought the issue home for me. Since then, we have been doing everything we can to help raise the profile of men’s mental fitness in Steve and Miles’ memory and to tackle the stigma of being too harsh to talk in whatever way we can. We are truly grateful to have had the support of both Miles’ family in this quest.

Our mantra is to ask: “How are you? Out of 10?”. Just asking someone how they are alone can elicit a passive response but putting it into a scale gives people pause to think and evaluate their state of mind.

DSQ: Men’s mental health has come to the fore in recent years. What, in your view, makes charities like Talk Club so important?

BA: It is a terrible statistic, but statistically, suicide is the most likely thing to kill men under the age of 50. A man takes their own life every 90 minutes in the UK - people who seem fine on the outside but are suffering on the inside and don’t feel comfortable or strong enough to share their pain.

Raising the profile of mental health services and giving men the environment to allow themselves to share their vulnerability is a vital first step to helping men. Another tragic statistic is that 40% of men will not talk to anyone about their mental health. We aim to provide preventative support to help men stay mentally fit and give them a place in a supportive community.

The tools charities like Talk Club provide are also important because, whilst the community approach can give support, the “out of 10” mindset gives individuals the awareness to monitor themselves and take responsibility. If someone is aware that they are having a bad day, they can be truthful about that with themselves and be mindful about what they can do to help themselves.

DSQ: How has the charity grown over the past five years?

GT: There has been a real awakening to the importance of mental fitness in men in recent years, and this realisation has helped us have a positive impact on a broader scale. We now have over 100 Talk Clubs worldwide, mainly in the UK and affiliated clubs in Australia, Dubai and Singapore.

We have also branched out to provide additional services to the clubs. This includes Talk Club Therapy, in which groups are supported by a fully qualified therapist over an eight-week course; Talk and Exercise, where groups engage in volunteer-run physical activity – anything from running and football to yoga – and most recently, Talk Club Business Support, which offers tailored mental health training for businesses.

DSQ: How have you expanded the reach of Talk Club?

BA: We are delighted to have worked with several local businesses in Bristol to help spread our message, including Wogan Coffee, who support us through their “Talk Club Ten” coffee and Bristol Beer Factory, where we held our very first Talk Club, with whom we partnered to create their non-alcoholic IPA Clear Head. 

We are also privileged to have earned the support of a wide range of ambassadors since we started, all through wildly different and remarkable circumstances. Among these are the Rockstar Liam Gallagher and world heavyweight champ Tyson Fury, who have recorded songs to raise funds for Talk Club.

DSQ: What’s next?

GT: We continue to train more people to start more clubs nationwide and see where we can add value to what we already do. Our focus is to help the next Steve and the subsequent Miles in whatever way we can and help anyone we can to improve their mental fitness, however many or few, which will be a victory.

To find out more about Talk Club, visit and follow @TalkClubcharity

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