Struggling? Scarborough support group is here to help
Speakup Scarborough is one man’s response to North Yorkshire’s shocking suicide rates.
Pete Speak set up the peer-to-peer mental health support group to offer a safe space for others struggling with their wellbeing to chat with like-minded people.
And it has proved a lifeline for many, with more than 3,000 joining the movement – which has now received funding from the National Lottery.
Figures released by the Office for National Statistics in September revealed Yorkshire and the Humber have the highest rate of suicides in England and Wales.
Data from Public Health England released around the same time, timed for World Suicide Prevention Day on September 10, showed the number of people losing their lives to suicide in North Yorkshire reached a record high between 2017 and 2019, and men accounted for nearly three-quarters of suicide deaths registered.
Mental health charities have warned that the coronavirus crisis could exacerbate existing risk factors. And for Pete (44) it was lockdown that led to him setting up Speakup Scarborough at a time when many people needed it most.
The group offer community sessions for men, women, and a mixed-sex group, with meetings once or twice a week to allow those involved to talk about their experiences.
Having experienced traumatic events for much of his life, and having hit rock-bottom himself in Christmas 2019, Pete is keen that others know they don’t have to suffer alone.
“Every person is unique and has their own story, and they have the right to tell it and a right to be listened to,” he says. “Anyone can come down into one of those groups and talk.”
He was inspired by the format of Andy’s Man Club, described as a nationwide “talking group, a place for men to come together in a safe environment to talk about issues and problems they have faced or are currently facing”.
The sessions are free, with a non-judgemental atmosphere to allow those present to open up and share their feelings. He says that for many people with complicated trauma, they can have difficulty with authority which is why an informal setting can be of great benefit.
“We have such a wide range of people with different traumas and life experiences: there will be somebody there that has had a similar life experience, and will relate to what you are saying,” adds Pete.
“We aren’t there to assess anybody – you aren’t going to get referred from one service to another and passed around. We are there every week, or twice a week, with familiar faces so you don’t have to repeat everything to somebody different every time. People get to know you a little bit.”
The SpeakUp Scarborough men-only group meets on Mondays at Albemarle Bapist Church, on Albemarle Crescent, from midday to 2pm; the women’s group meets at the same venue on Mondays from 7-9pm, and on Thursdays from midday to 2pm.
The mixed group meets on Thursdays from 7-9pm at St James with Holy Trinity Church on Seamer Road.
For further information please visit the group’s website at www.speakupscarborough.com