Bench and hopewalk to raise awareness of mental health

PUBLISHED: 10:38 15 October 2019 | UPDATED: 10:38 15 October 2019

The bench has been installed to give people a place to connect with each other.

The bench has been installed to give people a place to connect with each other.

Archant

A lantern-lit walk to raise awareness of mental health and suicide prevention took place in Portishead on Saturday.

Hopewalk around Portishead Lake Grounds by AWARE to promote mental health and wellbeing.    Picture: MARK ATHERTONHopewalk around Portishead Lake Grounds by AWARE to promote mental health and wellbeing. Picture: MARK ATHERTON

More than 70 people took part in the walk from the Lake Grounds to the open air pool to show their support for two charities, We Are Aware and Papyrus.

The Ambling Band accompanied supporters as they made their away along the route, as volunteers from the Samaritans were also on hand to provide information, support and advice.

The Hopewalk coincided with the installation of a community bench in Clevedon, which encourages people to take time out to talk to each other.

Named, Clevedon's Talking Point, it is the first of many similar features planned for the town aimed at boosting mental health and wellbeing.

Hopewalk around Portishead Lake Grounds by AWARE to promote mental health and wellbeing.    Picture: MARK ATHERTONHopewalk around Portishead Lake Grounds by AWARE to promote mental health and wellbeing. Picture: MARK ATHERTON

We Are Aware - a voluntary group which offers mental health support - has organised the project, with backing from North Somerset Council.

The seating has been created in the form of a semicolon, to represent the work of Project Semicolon in helping to reduce the incidents of suicide.

The punctuation mark is used as a symbol of hope to show a sentence, or life story, is ongoing.

Alan McCready, from We Are Aware, said: "It is intended to provoke conversation about mental health and wellbeing by its very existence; but also to be a place of connection for anyone needing support within the community.

Hopewalk around Portishead Lake Grounds by AWARE to promote mental health and wellbeing.    Picture: MARK ATHERTONHopewalk around Portishead Lake Grounds by AWARE to promote mental health and wellbeing. Picture: MARK ATHERTON

It is not about attempting to solve someone else's problems, but rather to listen to them.

"The semicolon has risen up as a symbol of hope in respect of suicide and mental health."

Somerset Wood Recycling designed the bench and staff installed it with the help of Clevedon Men's Shed.

Stowell, from Yatton, provided free concrete for the foundation and the bench was unveiled on World Mental Health Day on Thursday.

Hopewalk around Portishead Lake Grounds by AWARE to promote mental health and wellbeing.    Picture: MARK ATHERTONHopewalk around Portishead Lake Grounds by AWARE to promote mental health and wellbeing. Picture: MARK ATHERTON

Alan said: "The bench itself and information will provide a talking point for complete strangers to strike up a conversation.

"The information will include crisis numbers, conversational points of interest and promote future local mental health events and support.

"The symbolism of the bench may also bring comfort to those who have lost someone through suicide."

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