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Tom Fletcher and Dougie Poynter reveal the ups and downs of their 17-year friendship

The McFly stars have joined forces for a new mental health campaign

Best friends, ex-housemates and McFly stars Tom Fletcher and Dougie Poynter have opened up about their 17-year friendship, admitting there have been "a whole load of ups and downs".

Speaking exclusively to HELLO! as they raised awareness for the Better Phone Friends campaign, run by Three UK and Samaritans, the chart-toppers delved deep into their own bond.

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The mental health campaign encourages active listening during important conversations with loved ones, which Tom revealed was extremely personal to him.

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WATCH: Tom Fletcher and Dougie Poynter delve into what the campaign means to them

"Dougie and I have known each other since I was 18 and Dougie was 15," Tom told HELLO! "Our relationship has been through a whole load of ups and downs over the years so this campaign is really personal. We know first hand the importance of listening to each other and what that can mean."

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Reminiscing about their friendship, the father-of-three, who is married to author Giovanna Fletcher, admitted the most recent years have been the hardest. "When we first got in the band, we were all teenagers with one clear goal in our lives, we were all the same and we were living with each other," he said.

Tom Fletcher in better phone friends campaign Z

Tom Fletcher reveals his lockdown was extremely busy

"Naturally as you grow up, you have girlfriends and then we got married and I've got kids now, and Dougie has cats! Your priorities change in your life and your lives kind of evolve separately but we still have one common goal," he added.

Talking about his own mental health during the pandemic, Dougie revealed that he thoroughly enjoyed the very first lockdown, but that the following lockdowns were much more difficult. "Like all great trilogies, the first one was the best one because it was new and it felt like guilt-free time," he said.

Dougie Poynter in better phone friends campaign Z

Dougie Poynter admits he hasn't quite mastered the art of listening yet!

"Then I completed Netflix and it was all downhill from there really. It wasn't until the winter I think that I had to actually put in effort mentally."

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The youngest McFly bandmate also revealed that "one of the raddest things" which helped his mental health was the ability to find humour during a global disaster.

Tom, on the other hand, shared a big realisation they all had during the first national standstill. "Lockdown meant completely different things to each of us, especially me and Doug," he said.

"Our focus here was homeschooling the kids and making sure that their whole experience was smooth and as stress-free as possible, whereas Doug didn't have that side of things."

Tom fletcher dougie poynter in better phone friends campaign Z

The band released their first album in ten years in 2020

Chatting about their top tips on how to be an effective listener and encourage others to speak up if they're struggling with their mental health, Tom admitted he talks about himself too much.

"I'm bit of an awkward person, my way of showing that I'm listening to someone is by hearing what they've said and finding something in my own life that relates," he said.

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"The problem with that is I end up talking about myself too much. So my listening advice to myself is just to be quiet and actually listen."

dougie poynter and tom fletcher joins the better phone friends campaign Z

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Dougie agreed, saying: "Sometimes people just need to vent and hear themselves say the things without hearing an opinion or that anyone relates and that's the hardest thing, just being quiet and truly being present. Listening is an art that I'm yet to master!"

The pair also revealed that they hope this campaign will encourage people to pick up the phone and talk. "It's just as simple as asking someone how they are and genuinely meaning it," said Tom, with Dougie adding: "Not everyone has to become a therapist and have all the answers."

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