As mental health services face ever increasing demands on their resources one service finds itself appealing for support to secure its long-term future. Brighter Futures’ scheme – ECHO provides a vital life-line for those struggling with self-harm.
Self-harm is classed as any deliberate, non-suicidal behaviour that inflicts physical injury to a person’s own body. It isn’t simply attention seeking, it’s normally a way of coping with or expressing intense emotional distress. People living with self-harm have frequently experienced traumatic life events such as relationship difficulties with friends or family, abuse, problems at work, mental ill-health and bereavement. More than 50% of people who commit suicide sadly have a history of self-harm.
Brighter Futures ECHO offers support to anyone aged 18 or over, living in Stoke-on-Trent and North Staffordshire, who have experienced self-harm. It offers a chance to talk in confidence to other people who understand. Support is offered in different ways depending on the individual’s needs; this can include talking in a group environment or meeting one to one with a member of the support team.
With current funding having come to an end, Brighter Futures recognises the vital life-line this service offers to those who use it. Helena Evans, Brighter Futures Chief Executive says,
“While we can now confirm that our current funding for the scheme has come to an end, we also know that this service has literally changed lives for those that use it. It’s no exaggeration to say that it’s been the difference between life and death for many and we’re working hard to secure ECHO’s long-term future. ECHO enables so many of our customers to positively manage their lives and lead happier more fulfilled futures”.
To ensure its customers continue to receive the support they so desperately need, Brighter Futures have confirmed that they will fund ECHO until the end of March 2018. After which point they are looking for a more sustainable source of funding to ensure its long-term future. The scheme costs approximately £60,000 to run each year, and last year alone this scheme saw 80 people reduce their self-harm and obtain support with their mental health to find a way of coping with thoughts of harming themselves.
Helena Evans continues:
“We’re really keen to speak to businesses who’d be interested in supporting us and helping us to continue to provide this much-needed service. People who use this service are work colleagues, peers, friends and family who live in our communities and desperately need our support. We are also looking at extending the service further to people living in North Staffordshire and neighbouring areas where possible, in response to an identified need. We want to ensure that avoidable deaths and critical incidents simply don’t happen.
Already Swan Bank Church have offered us free use of their venue where we hold our Friday Art Group until the end of March. This gesture will make a real difference ensuring this much-needed therapeutic support continues. Customers and staff are overwhelmed by the generosity shown towards us. Thanks to regular attendance at this session and at our other venues we’ve seen people going from seeing no future for themselves to feeling positive about their lives”.
ECHO customers are now hoping that businesses step forward to offer the funding the scheme urgently needs.
“I can’t tell you how important this service is to me, it has absolutely saved my life. I didn’t know how bad things were becoming for me. I’d never felt these feelings before like wanting to die. I can now see some light where there was none before”.
Brighter Futures ECHO customer
Over the next four months ECHO will deliver a reduced service with effect from 20 November, which will be offered on a need assessed basis to those most in critical need, while longer term funding is sought.
To find out more about ECHO and how you can support call:
Jane Turner, Fundraising Manager 01782 406000
Kate Williams, Deputy Manager 01782 835220