On Saturday (8 September 2018), Amanda Jennings and friend Caroline McKee, of Penrith, were joined by 36 of their friends and family to walk the Ullswater Way in memory of their friend and brother Dan Jennings, whom they lost to suicide four years ago. The group walked the 20-mile route to raise awareness for Survivors of Bereavement by Suicide (SOBS) Cumbria and Prevention of Young Suicide (PAPYRUS).
Each year, more than 6,000 people take their own lives across the UK: SOBS is a national charity which works to provide emotional support to those who have been left behind. SOBS Cumbria support groups meet once a month, with groups in North, South and West Cumbria. SOBS Cumbria also has a local 24/7 helpline and a closed Facebook group.
“It was a lovely day,” Amanda, one of the group leaders, recalled, “everyone walked, or ran in some cases, at their own pace,” A few members of the group joined in at various stages of the walk, “this gave everyone the opportunity to meet and talk with different people along the way”. Overall, the day was inspiring and has encouraged Amanda and the group to do more fundraising to help raise awareness that ‘it’s okay not to be okay.’
Amanda is over the moon with the funds they have raised: “along the way, members of the public stopped and asked us what we were doing; some gave us a donation to go towards our efforts.” Through choosing to fundraise for SOBS Cumbria and PAPYRUS, they hope that more help and support can be offered to others who have been left behind by a loved one.
John Brown, from SOBS Cumbria, is astonished at the group’s efforts, “this walk is very poignant, as it is a result from tragic loss of life. However, the message the group are promoting, (‘it’s okay not to be okay’) is massively important, as we hope to encourage others to speak up and ask for help.”
Support the team
The team has raised £3,000.71 so far and, although the walk is over, donations are still welcome. You can show your support for the teams by making a contribution to their Virgin Money Giving page. Alternatively, you can donate £1, £2, £3, £4, £5 or £10 directly to SOBS Cumbria by texting 'SOBS00 £[insert amount]' to 70070; you can choose a different method of donation here.
Support for people touched by suicide
If you are struggling with the death of someone who has taken their own life and need someone to listen to your experience and offer you support, please do get in touch. You can call the SOBS Cumbria 24/7 helpline on 07572 975 721 (John) or 07896 703 757 (Karan). You can also email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or you can visit us on Facebook and Twitter at @SOBSCumbria.