Stories of Men

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Dealing with the effects of racism: Our Voices with Andy

In this episode of Our Voices, we learn about Andy’s experience of racist abuse while growing up in Northern Ireland, the effects of racism in his life and how he found a way to stand up to racism. 

Growing up with the effects of racism

Andy is a police officer of both Malaysian and Northern Irish heritage. He is also a father of three children and president of the National Black Police Association, an organisation that represents police officers from ethnic minorities across the UK. In many ways, it is Andy’s experiences while growing up which have influenced his desire to stand up to racism as part of his profession.

Andy talks about the challenges he faced as one of only three non-white families in his entire town. The first incident which made him aware of how others perceived him occurred when he was just six years old. He was at the circus with his older cousin and he was a fun-loving, confident youngster.

A tragic childhood memory

So, when a performing clown asked for volunteers, he didn’t hesitate to raise his hand and soon found himself on-stage with two other children in front of 200 spectators. The clown proceeded to ask each of the children their names. When the clown asked the first two children, each of the spectators began to cheer.

Then it comes to me and there was this kind of pregnant pause. The clown leaned down, asked what my name was, and I obviously replied Andy. And the next thing he stood up, again another bit of a pause, a couple of seconds. And, all of a sudden, he announced to everybody that this is sausage.”

This extremely traumatic racist abuse would later play an important role in teaching Andy to stand up to racism

Andy’s first reaction was confusion. Why did he call me sausage? Andy thought. But he noticed that the spectators were now howling with laughter. That was when he understood the joke. He had been called sausage because he was brown in the same way that sausages are brown. It was at this moment that Andy began to see himself as different to others

“I felt tiny… I felt like the whole tent was closing in on me. The heart beating like mad, almost wanting to run off. That was my immediate feeling, I want to get out of here. I want to leave.”

Racism in school

The impact of this experience didn’t just ruin this one evening for Andy. The effects of racism stayed with him for many years. “I had issues around confidence after that, I had issues around public speaking. I probably held back quite a bit as well, because I didn’t want to stand out, I didn’t want to be in the limelight again like that.”

A young confident child had been humiliated and shamed into not wanting to draw attention to himself. This is what the effects of racism can lead to. Once someone’s difference has been highlighted and exploited, it can make the individual want to hide the part of themselves that has caused that reaction. In the case of race, hiding this is the equivalent to hiding your entire self.

The situation Andy experienced was compounded by growing up in a sectarian society in the 1980s. The society Andy lived in was already characterised by division, therefore, people were attuned to focusing on difference. The discrimination he first experienced at the circus also became apparent in the form of racism in school. Children constantly asked him: “where are you from? Then, where are you really from? And I’m like: I’m really from Northern Ireland.” In Andy’s words:

“What racism and racist abuse is telling you a lot of the time is that you have no place in this society at all. You should go home, you don’t belong here, all of these things that people like me have been told numerous times throughout my life.”

Andy had to deal with the trauma of being bullied and beaten up because of his racial background. He describes people sneering and pointing at him in his town because there wasn’t anybody else who looked like him. 

Learning to stand up to racism

Experiences such as facing racism in school either break an individual or force him to find extra resilience just to survive. Andy was fortunate in that he was able to achieve the latter and he found a way to stand up to racism. As he got older he found that he was bigger than most of the other kids in his age group. As a result, he was able to fight off the bullies and stand up for himself. On top of this, he would stand up for other kids that experienced bullying too:

“I always had a big thing about what was right and what was wrong. Growing up and seeing others getting bullied at school, I would always be the person that would step forward.”

This natural inclination to justice has played a significant role in Andy’s choice of career. As a police officer, he has experienced great success. He has risen from the ranks of constable to becoming a Detective Inspector. He has also been commended twice and won numerous awards. Yet, throughout all of this, Andy has continued to experience racist abuse.

A tragic victim of racism

Not everyone in Andy’s family has been able to forge a positive path in the face of this abuse. He grew up with a sister who, just like him, experienced racism. As a response to this, she would often describe herself using racial epithets. Andy says that this was a coping mechanism.

Describing his sister as a loving individual who just wanted to help others, he feels that the rejection she experienced due to her skin colour was too much for her to bear and she developed issues with alcohol and drug abuse as she grew up. One day, after not having heard from her for a few days, Andy went round to his sister’s house to check in on her. Tragically, he would discover that she had taken her own life.

Joining the National Black Police Association

Andy believes that the reason his sister took her life was due to the effects of racism. It was what motivated him to join the National Black Police Association in 2016. In his words:

“I could use my position to help others. There was no point in my sister having taken her own life and some of the experiences I’ve had if I don’t try to make things better for the next generation”.

It’s this sense of mission that has driven Andy so far in his life. He has been able to take traumatic experiences and use them as fuel to improve the world for others. But, just as Andy says, why should individuals have to go through such heart-breaking experiences just because of looking different? If the majority of the population knew how devastating the impact of othering those of a different race was, surely they would think twice before doing it.

If you have been impacted by any of the themes in this article and you need support, please click on the following link: Racism and mental health.

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Laura is the mix engineer for the Stories of Men podcast. She has a BA in Music from Nottingham University and an Advanced Diploma in Music Production and Sound Engineering from Abbey Road Institute. Alongside working for Our Voices she is a freelance sound designer and technician. Her highlights include sound design for JK Rowling audiobook ‘The Christmas Pig’, and sound effects editing on The Outlaws, on the BBC.

For the Stories of Men podcast, Laura is typically provided with a Voice Over and interview. She then cleans the dialogue, integrates the podcast intro and outros, chooses the music that will add to the storytelling and pacing of the episode, then bring all the elements together in the mix, followed by mastering and then delivering the final edit.

Experience in Industry: 3


Favourite Food: Potatoes

Favourite Sport: Wild swimming

Favourite Show: Anything Marvel

Favourite Movie: Anything Marvel

Favourite City: London

Hobby: Music

Favourite Book: Northern Lights


I’m the community manager at Stories of Men. I spend most of my time focusing on the implementation of our marketing strategy, achieving goals and KPIs, and the rest of the time listening to the amazing stories of our guests. What I love most about working for Stories of men is the impact it has on peoples’ lives. It requires a lot of courage to tell your story out loud so I make sure these stories are heard by as many people as possible.

I was born and raised in Pakistan and I’ve been living in Hungary for over two years now. I have a Master’s degree in Marketing and I live for mastering the art of digital marketing.

Industry experience: 3 Years


Favourite Food: Biryani – introduced by the Mughal rulers in the Indian subcontinent; this dish is an absolute delight. Also, can never say no to a good burger – extra cheese!

Favourite Sport: Cricket – I grew up playing and watching cricket with friends and family.

Favourite Show: Stranger Things – I love how an odd group of friends fight against challenges bigger than themselves.

Favourite Movie: Harry Potter – The only movie I can watch over and over again!

Favourite City: Prague – Absolutely love the Baroque and Gothic vibe of this city.

Hobby: Netflix, Travelling, and Eating- I want to try different cuisines from every country once in my lifetime!

Favourite Book: The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown – A fast-paced thriller that keeps you hooked from the first page to the last.


I run Fascinate Productions, the production company behind the Stories of Men podcast. I’ve had a wide variety of roles in media, from underwater videography, to live televised sporting events around the world. But since listening to my first audiobook in 2016, I’ve been all about audio and jumped in with two feet. Podcasts are enabling the world to democratise its most valuable information. They’re about spreading messages, and sharing ideas, and it’s my mission to help those holding the knowledge, to distribute it far and wide.

When Alex approached us with the idea of making a short stories podcast, with a big social impact, he got our attention. As the producer of the show, I’ve heard his guests’ highest highs, their lowest lows, and the moments of change that made them who they are – it’s been a privilege helping to craft their most intimate experiences into stories for you to enjoy.

 Experience in Industry: 5 years


Favourite Food: Ice cream. It’s just the greatest culinary invention.

Favourite Sport: Rugby. I played from the age of 5 until 26 when a dislocated shoulder put me out of action. Still like to watch now though.

Favourite Show: The 100 – I love those ‘what if humans nearly got wiped out?’ type shows.

Favourite Movie: Gladiator

Favourite City: London. As a country boy from Yorkshire, I never thought I’d enjoy living here.

Hobby: Listening to podcasts while on long walks with my dog Alfie.

Favourite Book: I love to read anything business/startup related… One of the most recent great ones was Good Strategy/Bad Strategy by Richard Rumelt



Richard Willan is the CEO of Fascinate productions, a podcast production and promotion company. Before starting Fascinate, he worked an audio engineer, mastering tracks for artists on major and independent labels.

He is an executive producer for ‘Stories of Men’ where he assists with production, creative direction of the show, and marketing strategy.  





Favourite Food: I love Indian food – My favourite dish is a Dansak. It’s a rich combination of hot, sweet and sour flavours, made from lamb and lentils.

Favourite Sport: I enjoy watching combat sports like MMA – Isreal Adesanya is my favourite fighter at the moment, due to his Tae Kwon Do base and speed. 

Favourite Show: Succession – an American satirical drama. The character development is incredible, and the writing is top notch. 

Favourite Movie: True Lies. I find it amazing that someone who can’t act (Arni) has so many great films.

Favourite City: London, because it is a melting pot of culture and the music scene is amazing. 

Hobby: Making music, going to gym and eating out. 

Favourite Book:  The Secret History by Donna Tartt. I love the world she created, and the incremental path the characters take into darkness. It’s amazing.


I am responsible for writing blog articles for the Stories of Men podcast. I have the privilege of listening to fascinating stories on the topics and issues regarding men that are of greatest relevance to our society today. Once I’ve done this, I create articles that provide an overview and description of the conversations in order to help spread them to the widest possible audience. My job is to make these articles as engaging as the conversations themselves.

As an English teacher who has worked with students from all over the world for over 10 years, I have got used to successfully communicating with those from different backgrounds and cultures. This has helped me to appreciate the value of connection across borders and boundaries. It has also helped me to appreciate that we are all able to learn from each other’s experiences.



Favourite Food: Chocolate. It’s an indulgence, I know, but it tastes so good. I particularly enjoy dark chocolate for its richness and smoothness. 

Favourite Sport: Football.Unfortunately, my local team (Nottingham Forest) is not in that top league but I hope that one day it will be.

Favourite Show: The Wire. 

Favourite Movie: The Godfather. 

Favourite City: Reykjavik. I had the pleasure of spending two weeks there a number of years ago and I loved the place for its beauty, culture and calmness. It’s rare that you can be in a capital city and experience genuine space and peace and quiet. There’s also a black sand beach to walk along, although, due to the cold, I wouldn’t recommend bathing in the sea!

Hobby: Watching films. I love films, foreign films, classic films, contemporary films, just all good films.

Favourite Book: “Into the Wild” by Jon Krakauer. 

I’m the Editor of Stories of men. I craft compelling narratives from the stories of our fantastic guests, editing their interviews and scripting the episodes. I’m a freelance journalist and audio producer from Northern Ireland, currently based in California. I cover social issues, health and gender – with reporting in The Guardian, Vice, NPR, Cosmopolitan and many others. My focus is shining a light on the communities and initiatives that improve people’s lives. I have a background in the nonprofit space, having worked in communications for a mental health charity, as well as an education start-up. I mentor young female writers and sit on the board of an NGO that empowers women in global supply chains. 

Favourite Food:  In a word, sandwiches. The possibilities are endless.

Favourite Sport: Show jumping. When I was little I wanted to be a professional horse-rider, and I still get a kick out of watching the pros in action.

Favourite Show: Fleabag: the writing and acting create a thrilling kind of intimacy I haven’t seen anywhere else.

Favourite Movie: Victoria is an incredible German thriller that’s all shot in one take – it’s a real trip. Plus it’s beautifully soundtracked by Nils Frahm.

Favourite City: Very hard to choose, but it’s got to be Barcelona. The food, the pace of life, the winding streets – there’s nowhere else like it. 

Hobby: exploring city streets on my bike – preferably while listening (safely!) to a podcast – is when I’m at my happiest. 

Favourite Book: Bernadine Evaristo’s Girl, Woman, Other is a stunning, utterly unique portrait of womanhood, race, ageing and the principles we choose to live 

I am the host of Stories of Men. I help to find men that have a powerful voice to share and then I speak to them and help to tease the stories out of them that will have a positive impact on the listener. 

While running Swoosh English, an online English school from 2013 – 2021, I had the opportunity to meet men from all walks of life and many of these guys had incredible stories. This inspired me to start ‘Stories of Men’ because I wanted to give these men a platform to share their stories with the world.

I love the detail that people go into and how people craft stories in different ways. My dream and vision for the future would be countless people messaging to tell us how a particular episode has changed their lives!


Favourite Food: Avocados – an incredibly delicious fruit that can be used in so many dishes. My favourite is guacamole with nachos!

Favourite Sport: Boxing and football (couldn’t choose one!)

Favourite Show: 2 comedy series: Alan Partridge and The Office (UK version). I just love English humour!

Favourite Movie: Shawshank Redemption: An unbelievable journey full of twists and turns.

Favourite City:  New York – Living there for a year in 2008 changed my life. It made me believe that anything in life was possible if you want something badly enough.

Hobby: Football, boxing, reading, learning Spanish, travelling and watching fascinating conversations on Youtube.

Favourite Book: Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts – a book about an incredible journey.