Scarborough woman creates online support group for community to discuss their issues
A Scarborough resident has set up an online peer-to-peer support group, and is set to launch group sessions, to help people in the community.
Helen Speak, originally from Halifax, moved to Scarborough seven years ago after 'a horrific few life events', including domestic violence.
She was supported into education, took several short courses and has volunteered with the Samaritans for five years.
Helen completed an access course at CU Scarborough and went on to complete a counselling degree at the university, from which she hopes to graduate this July after completing the required number of placement hours.
She has now started an online group on Facebook - the Speak Out Community Support Group - to offer support and a place for individuals to speak about issues they are facing.
"Before Christmas I was a bit stuck, a bit lost, so I decided to tell my life story, as I've overcome a horrific few life events," Helen explained, "People need help in the here and now so I decided social media is the way to go and started sharing short videos of my life."
People were responding to the videos which gave Helen the idea to start the group, which has gained almost 400 members since it started three weeks ago.
Helen said: "It's amazing, I can't believe it. I knew I wanted to do something to help people but I wasn't sure what.
"I didn't realise I could do online what I can do in the community."
Each week Helen chooses a topic to discuss, such as depression, anxiety or domestic violence but group members are free to raise anything they would like help or support with.
She is also planning to start group sessions in the community.
Helen explained the sessions will be informal chats for over 18s and she will be signposting people to other services if they're in crisis and need specialist support, or another kind of help such as with housing.
The first session will take place at Gallows Close Centre in Barrowcliff on February 28 from 9.30am to 11.30am and continue every Friday.
Helen is planning to register Speak Out as a constituted community group and has planned a sponsored walk on March 14.
Those interested in taking part are asked to meet at Sealife at 10am and the walk will make its way to the Spa.
Free tea and coffee will be provided for participants afterwards.
Helen added: "If I hadn't have had the help I've had over the years I wouldn't be where I am today.
"I've needed that encouragement and support and now I just want to help people and give something back.
"It's been a whirlwind, but so far it's been amazing."