Publish date: 29 June 2023
Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust (AWP) is supporting The Baton of Hope, the largest suicide prevention initiative in the UK, when it visits Bristol on Sunday 2 July.
The nationwide tour of the baton will visit key areas of the city including the ss Great Britain, UWE Bristol and Ashton Gate Stadium. AWP, which provides healthcare for people with serious mental illness, learning disabilities and autism across the south west, will welcome the baton at Bedminster Cricket Ground where the Trust’s Suicide Prevention Lead, Natasha Easter, and Head of Nursing - Inclusion and Safety, Will Smith, will be speaking at 11am.
As part of their talk, Will and Natasha will speak about AWP’s zero suicide ambition and its commitment to providing high quality, compassionate care.
Commenting on their involvement with The Baton of Hope tour, Natasha said: “As someone who has been both personally and professionally impacted by suicide, it feels really important to stand with the families of those lost to suicide at The Baton of Hope event in Bristol.
“Each and every suicide is an individual tragedy and has long-lasting effects on families, communities and professionals involved. We are passionate about addressing that tragic reality and working together with families, our staff, system partners and communities to save as many lives as we possibly can.”
The baton will be carried through Bristol by people representing the lives of loved ones lost by suicide. Made by Thomas Lyte, goldsmiths and silversmiths to the late Queen Elizabeth II, the baton will complete its tour with a trip to Downing Street on Thursday 6 July.
Mental Health Support Worker at AWP, Jacob Kelly, is honoured to be bearing the baton through the Ashton Court Estate on Sunday afternoon.
Jacob said: “I will be dedicating my leg of the Bristol tour to parents lost through suicide. In July 2019 I was at my lowest, struggling with postnatal depression and suicidal thoughts following the birth of my second child. I thought nothing would ever improve, but once I started sharing what I was experiencing through talking with my loved ones and seeking medical help, everything became manageable which began my recovery journey.
“For me, talking openly and shame-free about my thoughts, feelings and emotions really helped me to feel less alone. It also helped me to meet others who had been through similar experiences which really helped smash the shame and guilt I was feeling as a dad and husband. Four years on, I’m in a fantastic place with my mental health and wellbeing. I have met so many amazing, inspirational people along the way.”
The Baton of Hope was co-founded by Mike McCarthy, whose son Ross battled depression for a decade before taking his own life in 2021.
Mike commented: “The significance of this event cannot be overestimated. For the first time, a physical symbol that can be passed from bearer to bearer – from sufferer to sufferer – is spreading a message that we needn’t struggle alone.”
For details about the events taking place on Sunday 2 July during The Baton of Hope, visit batonofhopeuk.org.