Our Founding Story

Stage 1 – The Spark (2006-2009)

In 2006, Therapist and Leadership consultant Michael Boyle gathered together a group of men to start working on a new initiative with the working title abandofbrothers. These men included those with experiences of youth work, leadership development, initiatory men’s work, theatre and teaching. Their aim was to create a training weekend that would enable young men to make a new start in their lives, draw a line under their past and claim the best possible future for themselves.

These original co-creators prototyped and iterated to create a potent training weekend, which they trialled a number of times in community and custodial settings. These events were all a great success and a registered charity was established in 2008 to steward the work into the future. The founding trustees were Michael Boyle, Richard Olivier and Nathan Roberts.

Stage 2 – Embedding abandofbrothers in a Local Community (2009-2013)

During the course of the early trials, another learning revealed itself.

Transforming the lives of young men (18-25) living with very complex backgrounds and multiple Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE’s) takes more than a weekend. We came to believe that the best road to change would be to provide a community for them. This community could be a place where they would receive the care, support and love that had been missing for them growing up. We knew that this would not be a quick fix and would require huge commitment from a group of men willing to create such an environment.

So began the second fundamental period of the evolution of abandofbrothers – the transition from a training weekend into place-based Social Action. A group of pioneer men in Brighton stepped up to co-create this next evolution which included building the wider networks of referral partners, funders and also the systems and structures required.

The forging of abandofbrothers had taken thousands of hours of time by this point. This was given by men working as volunteers, offering their dedication in service to their community.

Stage 3 – Propagating across Geography (2013 to present day)

From 2013 onwards, the challenge for abandofbrothers became how to expand the initiative from a single base in Brighton to reach more areas of the country. This required a further stage of organisational evolution, learning how to understand how to train and support pioneers in other areas to create something in their area of the same high quality whilst having a local flavour and being responsive to specific community needs. The development of abob into a Social Franchise organisation was supported by the International Centre for Social Franchising (now Spring Impact)


We are grateful to all of the men who played a role in the founding, iteration and evolution of abandofbrothers into what it is today. We are also grateful to those who went before us and whose work and ideas we have benefitted from and in some cases adopted into our programmes. There are many on whose shoulders we stand and on whose wisdom we draw. Thank you.

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