How a new project is conquering ‘bronliness’ and isolation in Hackney men

Some of the "bros" with their minivan ready to go on a trip.

Some of the "bros" with their minivan ready to go on a trip. - Credit: Anne-Marie Payne

Hackney Brocals is training “an army of bros” – men aged 50 and older – to operate minibuses so they can drive each other on day trips.

Andreas on a Brocals trip to Hastings Contemporary.

Andreas on a Brocals trip to Hastings Contemporary. - Credit: Anne-Marie Payne

The group, who refer to each other as "bros", are tackling "bronliness" in their communities.

"Bronliness" is defined as the "state of being somewhat isolated and somewhat bothered by it, but also being too much of a bro to want to talk about it".

"Honorary bro" Anne-Marie came up with the idea while volunteering.

She told the Gazette: "It introduced me to far too many lovely guys who pretty much fell apart once their wives departed the planet," she said.

Anne-Marie Payne and a coach-load of "bros" heading to the RAF museum in Colindale.

Anne-Marie Payne and a coach-load of "bros" heading to the RAF museum in Colindale. - Credit: Anne-Marie Payne

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"They'd depended on her for the social aspect of things and weren't entirely sure how to maintain those connections once she was no longer around.

"I also trained to drive a 12-seater minibus [while volunteering] and found sitting behind the wheel of a 3.5 tonne vehicle to be an exhilarating experience - the cogs began to turn - I imagined an army of bros driving each other around."

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A report by Independent Age found older men aren't as good as women at maintaining relationships. This can lead to social isolation after divorce or if their wives die.

"I like meeting people who I don't know, who I'd never see otherwise because in my normal life I don't get to meet many different people. It helps to stimulate my brain," Said 74 year-old bro Bob Holt.

One of the "bros" at Grafton-On-Sea.

One of the "bros" at Grafton-On-Sea. - Credit: Anne-Marie Payne

The men meet every week to plan future activities like trips to caves, warships and abandoned nuclear bunkers

Kito just joined Brocals and said staying at home too much stressed him out but meeting up with other men like him helped him feel better.

He especially enjoys trips out of London.

There is also a buddying system and Brocals has set up 10 befriending pairs already.

The project, which started running last September, relies on volunteers. It is managed by City and Hackney Carers Centre and funded by Connect Hackney.

"It's somewhere to come - another connection," said bro Peter Richardson, 72.

Brocals meet every second Monday of the month at the U7 lounge in Hoxton between 11am-1pm. Anyone interested in joining should call Anne-Marie on 020 8533 0951.

For more information visit or @hackneybrocals on instagram or twitter.

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