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The title of this blog is simply....Hope

Hope is defined by the Oxford Dictionary as a feeling of expectation and desire for a particular thing to happen.

On the 27th of June in Newcastle upon Tyne, I did experience the feeling of HOPE by the bucketful!

You may have heard of the #BatonofHope tour, you may have seen something on the local or national news about it, or you may not so let me share what it is.

The Baton of Hope was established to be the biggest suicide awareness and prevention initiative in the UK, the concept was created by fathers Mike McCarthy and Steve Philip following the loss of their sons to suicide and is currently touring many towns and cities in the United Kingdom, it began on the 25th of June in Glasgow and is due to end at Downing Street on 6th July.


I saw Mike McCarthy’s interview on the BBC in April of this year, which was the first time I’d heard of the Baton of Hope tour, when I realised it was coming to Newcastle, I felt an instant urge to put myself forward, I sent an email telling a bit about myself and received an application form. On the 22nd of May, I received an email to say I’d been selected; the emotion was instant, and I felt very honoured to be a part of such an event. I’ve had struggles with my own mental health and have worked with clients who have both lost loved ones and others who have felt suicidal, so I wanted to do this not only for myself but for my clients too.


I began to share my involvement (a tiny piece of a very big jigsaw), on social media as it is so incredibly important to talk and share experiences, talking about suicide, depression, and mental health wellbeing shouldn’t be taboo at all. Far too many people take their lives when suicide is preventable, we need to talk, need to listen and be aware of the warning signs.

As the Newcastle date was launched and my t-shirt arrived, I was told there was a space to place a picture of a loved one, I felt choked and I am in a very fortunate position not to have lost a loved one, so what was I to do? Leave it blank, I didn’t want to, nor did I want to appear disrespectful in any way.

I had a rather late-in-the-day thought! I follow author & poet Donna Ashworth and following my husband’s belief that ‘shy bairns get nowt’ I contacted her with my fingers crossed and explained the situation. Donna was very gracious and said she’d love to and sent me a few words from her new book, (not yet released, so keep your eyes peeled).



The epitome of kindness, time, and interest, thank you, Donna! You can find more about Donna at https://www.instagram.com/donnaashworthwords/ or https://www.facebook.com/ladiespassiton or https://donnaashworth.com/ I highly recommend finding her work.


Newcastle


My leg began at Castle Farm Carpark, organised by Jayne Walsham, the lead for the Newcastle element of the tour. Jayne, also a bereaved mother following the loss of her daughter Jodi, had planned numerous events along the way and she did a phenomenal job!


I left the car park to a few whoops from a client, my daughter, her partner, and my parents, I walked towards Millfield House, Jesmond Dene, and somewhere in between I handed the baton over to Firefighter, Tommy, he carried it until we reached the destination where we met many others from all walks of life, plus some of the incredible emergency services, with representatives from the police and the paramedics speaking to us all, we then listened to the beautiful voice of Melody Reed, seek her song ‘” Stay”, its heart-wrenching and utterly beautiful in equal measure.


From there the numbers continued to grow and we walked from Heaton Park View onto Ouseburn Warehouse Workshops and Studios, there was music, art, poetry, and tears before moving onto The Millenium Bridge. We received such a warm welcome with the sound of 140 members of the Rock Choir, they sang songs both upbeat and emotional, toes were tapping, hands were waving, and hugs aplenty too when Andy from #3dadswalking joined the baton bearers and the supporters. Then onto Grey’s Monument, Newcastle University, where local County Councillors joined us as well as speakers from local charities, listening to personal experiences was incredibly raw, the courage and strength were immense. Lastly, the final stages of the day included the Royal Victoria Hospital and finally, St James Park. What an experience!



Tuesday 27th of June for me was a day filled with hope, hope for change, hope for more conversation to take place, for organisations to collaborate and work together more effectively, to enable better signposting, and to educate others on how to talk and support those in need. And with every digit crossed, there is fundamentally a HUGE need for the Government and other agencies to assist in preventing suicide so we can live in a society where there is a zero-suicide society.


Did you know...


There are more than 6,000 suicides each year in the UK – 17 people every day will take their own life.

120,000 lose an immediate relative or close friend.

Suicide kills more than cancer and traffic accidents.

The Northeast of England has one of the highest suicide rates.

The rate of young people ending their own life has increased across the UK (RCPCH)

Males aged between 50-54 and females aged between 45-49 are the age groups with the highest suicide rate.


We live in a world filled with negativity and bad news but today this was turned on its head. My head and heart are filled with so much emotion, love, and positivity.

As the baton continues its journey from Newcastle, may I wish everyone concerned the greatest of luck and love for Sheffield, Manchester, Belfast, Cardiff, Bristol, Birmingham, Milton Keyes, Brighton & London.

Follow if you can, support if you can and you can donate by visiting justgiving.com/batonofhopeuk


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