How long have you been living and working in the Cheltenham Connect area of South Cheltenham – are you a lifer or a relative newbie?
I was born in Gloucester and my family moved here when I was four years old and I attended Leckhampton Primary School. I grew up here, moving away when I went to University. I then worked in Bristol and overseas for a few years, returning to Leckhampton in 1999.
What do you feel is special about our local community in this part of town?
It is the proximity to nature that is most special to me. Within a few minutes’ walk, we are in open countryside, where we can have a therapeutic connection with nature, and where we also encounter the warmth and friendliness of local residents who are walking or cycling past. _______________________________________________________________________________
Tell us about your project.
Please tell us all about your project and why you started it.
Suicide Crisis is a registered charity which runs Suicide Crisis Centres. I set up the charity in 2012, after my own experiences led me to realise that there was a need for a different type of service for people experiencing suicidal crisis. We provide a combination of Suicide Crisis Centres, home visits and emergency phone lines for clients under our care.
What have been the biggest challenges and rewards?
One of the most meaningful aspects of our work is of course that all our clients have survived. Nothing has been more important than their survival. But there are huge rewards, too, in getting to know our clients. We see some of the kindest, most caring individuals you could wish to meet.
Additionally, our work has gained national and international attention - something we could never have anticipated. We received communications from The Ministry of Health in New Zealand (who were leading on their new national suicide prevention strategy) informing us that they wished to learn more about our work. Subsequently they wrote to us to commend our work and described it as “inspiring” and they informed us that our work was “supporting other work across the world”. It is astonishing that our work is having an impact there.
In terms of challenges, the biggest challenge was overcoming the many hurdles and barriers to setting up a Suicide Crisis Centre in the first place.
What keeps you going? What motivates you?
Our clients are my strongest motivation. As I have explained, our clients are such wonderful individuals and we know that they are going to go out into the world and have a positive impact on other people. When clients are recovering from their crisis, they often tell me that they want to help other people in the future, or become involved in campaigns to help change things for the better. They are a source of hope for the future.
Dreams for the future.
We have already achieved more than I could ever have dreamed of, in terms of national and international interest in our work. As it happens, May is our anniversary month and we’ve been offering services in Gloucestershire for 8 years, I think it would be wonderful if we could continue to share our ethos, approach and methods widely.
What do you most need in the way of resources and support to help you continue?
Fundraising and donations are always helpful and very gratefully received, and any help to raise further awareness of our work. Additionally, we are looking to rent a new Suicide Crisis Centre in Cheltenham and are looking for the “right” premises.