Sunday 11 December 2011

A new phase begins

The Board of Directors of Grassroots Training recently cast unanimous votes to move forward with converting Grassroots from a social enterprise to a charity.

This is a decision that has not been taken lightly, nor easily.  Our social enterprise status has served us well for nearly six years (our birthday is in January!) and to leave it behind feels risky.  As a CIC (Community Interest Company) we have been a very agile company, able to respond quickly to market changes or local/national agendas.  When we become a charity our decision process will become slower, with certain decisions needing to go to the board of trustees at set meetings, rather than a weekly or monthly discussion with 2 or more directors.

For the four of us who began Grassroots, becoming a charity means completely letting go of the governance of the company and letting the trustees take it over.  I have had a profound realisation of why we call them 'trustees' - letting go is difficult when we have been involved in every step of the way with getting Grassroots off the ground and growing it into the an organisation we are very proud of.  Not for the first time we've been struck by the analogy of parenting - our 'baby' has become a young adult and is becoming independent from us.

Having said the above, I am happy, proud and excited to be ushering Grassroots into a new phase!  We will be able to become more public-facing and increase our ability to campaign around suicide prevention.  New funding streams will become available to us.  We can begin to plan for the future, hoping that Grassroots will outlive us all and continue the work we've begun.  Onwards and upwards :)

So, all we need to do before we complete our articles of association is come up with a name.  Suggestions on an (electronic) postcard please...

Thursday 25 August 2011

Suicide prevention in Brighton goes viral

A  viral suicide prevention campaign is kicking off in Brighton to coincide with World Suicide Prevention Day on September 10th.

We will launch our video ‘I Am Alive’ ( at the Rock Inn in Kemptown, Brighton.  

MP Caroline Lucas will make a special online appearance together with suicide prevention colleagues in Canada and USA.  Other guests lined up for this special event include:

  • Kate Bornstein – author of ‘Hello Cruel World: 101 Alternatives to Suicide for Teens, Freaks and Other Outlaws’
  • Friends of Emmet – an Irish band living in LA
  • Susan Aglukark – internationally acclaimed Inuk folk musician and chair of the Arctic Children and Youth Foundation
  • A brand new interpretation of Gloomy Sunday, the ‘suicide song’ by Angi  Mariani from Brighton’s Latest magazine
  • Tom Scanlon, chair of Brighton & Hove's Suicide Prevention Strategy Working Party

Please join us!  If you can't be there in person, don't worry: the event will be screened live and made available worldwide via social networking site Twitter at #WSPD.

We believe that when people come together in support of suicide prevention hope can be strengthened and changes made to happen.  
Around one in 20 of us will contemplate suicide at some point this year.  But we can do something about it and that’s what the video shows - it promotes a positive message that if people reach out to others then lives can be saved.  Not talking about suicide simply isn’t working.

Suicide prevention isn’t only the preserve of doctors and social workers – anyone can help.

The ‘I Am Alive’ video contains inspirational personal accounts of how people’s reasons for living, however ‘small’, helped them to choose life instead of suicide.   We are asking people to support the ‘I Am Alive’ campaign by forwarding the video to at least 20 people.  We’d also like supporters to talk about suicide with anyone they’re concerned about, and to donate to the website to pay for training.

Brighton has the second highest suicide rate in England. The highest is Blackpool.  Risk factors for suicide include mental illness, substance misuse, unemployment, poor social support networks.

Find out more about World Suicide Prevention Day:

Wednesday 4 May 2011

I Am Alive

We’re not often given the opportunity to help someone stay alive, unless perhaps we work for the emergency services.  A staggering 1 in 20 of us will have thoughts of suicide this year.  That number could include one of our friends, a family member or another other loved one.  Here at Grassroots we want to reduce the number of people who act on their thoughts of suicide, by reaching more people with the suicide intervention skills training that we deliver.

We have worked with to create an amazing and inspiring short video called ‘I Am Alive’ which is part of a campaign we are running to raise awareness of suicide prevention and reach out to those who need help. 

If you would like to help us create a more open, caring community prepared to help those at risk of suicide, then please take a few minutes to click on the link below and watch our video.  Please then forward it to 20 people you know.  You never know, you could be helping to save a life.

You can also click our website's Donate button and make a donation today.  Just £2 per month could buy training materials for one suicide first-aider.  Your help will help us as we support communities to prevent suicide.  

Thank you!

The Grassroots Training Team

Thursday 24 March 2011

A new member of the family!

Hello, my name is Kerry and I am a shiny new intern at Grassroots Training. I am a graduate of Psychology with a working background in mental health and charity infrastructure. Over the next few months I will be involved in a range of research and evaluation projects for Grassroots as part of my post-graduate certificate in community enterprise. 

At the moment I am implementing a new evaluation system for our courses, which we hope will be a useful tookit to help us measure what you think of our services.  Later I will be working with Miranda on creating a set of quality standards around our monitoring and evaluation, and helping Xander in the ongoing pilot of our ASIST course. 

On the research side of things I am just starting work on a very interesting project which will look at the repercussions of giving personal accounts of mental health issues in our 1 in 4 course.  All very exciting and interesting work!

I feel very settled and at home in the team already, and I am honoured to be contributing to such a worthwhile and important cause.


Wednesday 2 March 2011

Grassroots receives emergency funding!

We very recently learned that we have been awarded £35,200 from the Department of Healths's Financial Assistance Fund.  Without this emergency funding, we were projected to fold in Auguest 2011.  We are all pretty much over the moon about the news, and now that the press embargo has been lifted we can share the good news :)

The economic downturn has affected us badly, as it has many others.  This injection of financial assistance gives us a lifeline.  We are confident that now  will meet our aim of becoming a healthy and resilient company, enabling us to ensure staff and community members’ access to effective, quality training that promotes mental well-being and helps to prevent suicide. 

Our training is known to be very effective. Health professionals who took ASIST (Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training) during 2010 note “Probably the best training I have had and ever will have; I have used it countless times since” and “This is essential training for all frontline staff, delivered brilliantly and intelligently.”

Grassroots believes that our work is needed now more than ever.  Predictions based on an analysis in the Lancet of economic changes and death rates say rising UK unemployment could mean at least 290 additional suicides per year.  Professor Martin McKee, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said suicide rates were just the tip of the iceberg and that many more would suffer from high levels of mental distress (BBC news 08.07.2009).

With the economic situation hitting people so hard we are keen to train as many community members and health/social care workers as possible to become suicide alert and responsive.

Wednesday 16 February 2011

Kindness of strangers

Over these last couple of months we've been lucky enough to receive several donations to help us with our work. 

Waitrose made us one of their charities of the month in December which brought us £441 - enough for a new data-projector.  This means we will no longer need to hire one out for our training.  I was surprised, and delighted, to see that we did so well.  Suicide is a word that I thought might put people off donating to us, because of the stigma that surrounds it, but instead we outstripped the other 2 charities to receive this healthy amount.

We were also the beneficiaries of a Charity Chuckle stand up comedy night in Brighton.  Around 60 people came out on a freezing January night to have a laugh and help us out :)  Overall the night brought in £337 in door takings, raffle charges and a donation from Father Christmas.  Yes, really.

Finally, we took £20 from a Christmas event at the Sealife Centre in a very funny few weeks where we had a Christmas tree next to the piranhas and the public popped tokens into our charity tin!

So, thank you friends and supporters, your help means a lot to us.

Wednesday 2 February 2011

Offensive grafitti

Today I asked Brighton and Hove City Council to remove grafitti on a suicide helpline sign on the flyover above Brighton Marina (a local attempted/completed suicide 'hotspot').

Sign: 'You are not alone'. Grafitti: 'Jump wiv a mate'.

When I described it to the Council worker on the phone, he said "Oh yeah, I've seen that... one."   So how come he hadn't reported it to his own team for immediate removal?

Another 'sign' that there's a helluva a long way to go to dismantle the stigma and misunderstanding surrounding suicidal behaviour.

Grrrr. Rant over, thanks.