MEMBERS of a men’s peer support group in Romsey have spoken of their delight at seeing their life-saving club recommence face to face meetings.

Romsey was the first location to host a ManGang meeting in September 2019 at Café Fresh in Market Place. Since opening, the group has helped hundreds of men improve their mental health by the simple act of talking.

The group now has venues in Eastleigh, Southampton, Winchester and Romsey.
Meetings were forced online in 2020 amid lockdown restrictions. Over two years on, ManGang Romsey has re-started its face-to-face sessions on July 6, meeting every Wednesday at 6.30pm at Café Fresh.

READ MORE: Teams brave heat to take part in fun run and bed race

Newly appointed leader of the Romsey group Sanjay Ganatra said: “It’s absolutely vital to have face to face meetings because people open up more and they can also see the body language in other people and as a result they’re able to be more empathetic towards one another. For some people, myself included, Wednesday nights become my Saturday nights out.”

Sanjay’s daughter recommended the group when her father was contemplating suicide in October 2021.

He added: “If I’m honest, ManGang has saved my life. I was hopeless and helpless but now I actually see a purpose in life and something to live for.

“Having other people experiencing feelings I have had, not feeling alone, other people showing that they were able to overcome those obstacles agave me the confidence and the faith to see that I can overcome these obstacles.”

Each meeting begins with a set of ground rules before the group each share their issues.

Founder of the organisation Andy Bishop was diagnosed with mental ill health and bipolar disorder whilst serving in the military. After losing a friend to suicide in 2017 Andy set out to change the behaviour that led his friend, himself and many others to bottle up their emotions. 

SEE ALSO: Engineering company Unitspark helps build climbing frame at Chatterbox Pre-school in Romsey

He said: “At my friend’s funeral, there was a common phrase in every group of people ‘we had no idea he was struggling’. 

“I started working for mental health first aid England as a freelance speaker and I was feeling better every time I told my story, it was very cathartic.”

Inspired by talking about his own experience Andy set up the group. ManGang has the tagline “it’s not weak to speak”. 

The organisation is continually expanding and hope to open venues in Leicester and Fareham.

To date, ManGang has hosted 154 members, 244 in person meetings and 350 Zoom meetings. Go to


A message from the editor

Thank you for reading this article - we appreciate your support.

Subscribing means you have unrestricted access to the latest news and reader rewards - all with an advertising-light website.

Don't take my word for it – subscribe here to see for yourself.

Looking to advertise an event? Then check out our free events guide.

Want to keep up with the latest news and join in the debate? You can find and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.