Where next?  At our recent meeting we looked at where we go from here and the question was there a need to more formalise the alliance at this moment in time. It was agree to leave formalising the alliance and looking at charity status and funding for the moment. The alliance has no funding and the main bulk of work and costs incurred falls to me which I am happy to continue with at the moment. We are very grateful for the help Kerrie Dale and her PA gives in putting the minutes together and sending out to everyone.

Join us at our next meeting on 16th August - We plan to look at the possibilities for other preventative measures on the two bridges in Barnstaple and Bideford but the potential is that our idea could be spread much farther afield. Russ has spoken with an engineer to use a phone box similar to the ones on the motorway linked to either the Samaritans or with a recording of the letter of hope or a dedicated support line. We are looking at the possibility of using an infra-red beam that if broken askes the question “Are you ok? Please pick up the phone”

This in itself will give the chance to give the person time to stop, think, reconsider and ask for help. And Kevin who is the chief engineer said he will definitely take us inside the new Bideford Bridge! I feel really positive about the work we are doing together and this involves Public health, RNLI, Fire, police, ambulance, coastguards, Staff from the psychiatric unit in Barnstaple, so this really is a multi-agency piece of work which is fantastic.

The Samaritans call back scheme is continuing unfortunately I’ve not received the update from last week’s meeting but will bring this to the next meeting.

The Letter of Hope has been completed and is on its way to the printers!! It’s been a long and complicated journey but one that has been worth it. It will be piloted in North Devon but is widely available to be downloaded and given from either the DPT or Recovery Devon websites. I will bring some copies of the finishes letter and Zcard to the next meeting. The final filming will be completed this week although I have no date for its broadcast on Hiblio. I will inform you all as soon as I know.

We had a walk in memory of Dan who was the son of one of our members. The walkers were sponsored and all money raised will go to Clarity which is a charity that offers individual and group counselling and support for those in mental distress, which in these turbulent and unsettled times is only set to increase. I feel we all need to be mindful of how the multitude of redesigns that are happening at the moment impact on those the service is supposed to be supporting as it greatly increases the distress both to them their family and carers.

Making a film:  Dan’s father and myself went up to London on June 18th and 19th to be filmed, My daughter in law and myself were filmed on the 19th which was an emotional time after I read my suicide letter we talked about it and the effect the attempt had and how they would have been effected if I had succeeded. We finished with a high 5 as Danielle said the whole family were so pleased to have their wife, mum, nan with them! I then had a session filmed in which I answering questions. There is still some work to be done on the film before it goes live on YouTube and social media and used in raising awareness and to help with fund raising. However painful the day was if it raises awareness and breaks the taboo that is suicide then that pain is work it. I will again let you know as soon as I do that it is available to watch.

Update re involvement, I still support women going through the breaking free group which is inspirational and amazing as someone with lived experience of the devastation that childhood sexual abuse leaves it is great to see others breaking free from its hold and staring their journey of recovery. Groups at the hospital have been difficult due to change over in staff as I cannot run a group on my own I need a member of DPT staff with me. We hope to soon be able to start the groups up again, the time has given me an opportunity to research other possibilities and look at how we can improve on the groups we have now. Time is never wasted and something positive always comes out of it.

On a personal note I attended the Memory Clinic with my Dad two weeks ago in Barnstaple. From the moment we walked into reception and the welcome we were given to leaving we were treated with respect, dignity and warmth. It made what was a distressing time, for us all into a more relaxed process everyone from the lovely receptionist to the consultant where superb. My Dad was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, even delivering the diagnosis was done with such care, we can be proud of the great team in Barnstaple.

I will be at the next meeting as I now have an offer of a life.

Marie Ash - August 2016