Vital service is axed

I WAS interested to read the article in last week’s Observer regarding the closure of the East Sussex Coastal Survivors of Suicide (SOS) Service.

I was employed by Rethink in October 2000 to set up this service and continued to work in it up until its final day last week.

Originally Rethink received funding from East Sussex County Council’s Adult Social Care budget to provide this service.

After this funding was axed alternative monies were secured, as you reported, from the Big Lottery Fund to enable SOS to not only continue but also to expand to the Eastbourne area.

Throughout its time SOS provided one-to-one support to local people surviving a suicide attempt and also group support including to those bereaved by suicide.

I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to work in the service and, along with colleagues, to be there for people often at a very desperate and traumatic time in their lives.

The service also aimed to raise local awareness of suicide and its prevention and, quite simply, to make a difference in people’s lives. I’m confident, from feedback received over the years, that this was achieved.

I would like to clarify that all four staff working directly in the service, including me, were made redundant when the service closed on March 31.

I am baffled then as to why Rethink stated: ‘there were five staff who oversaw the service and they will not be losing their jobs but re-deployed to different posts within the organisation’.

My sincere hope now is that the very specialist support SOS was able to offer over the last decade may be taken on by another agency, as sadly, the reality is the need for it will continue.

I would like to express my heartfelt thanks to the many people involved with and supporting SOS over the years, in particular to all at Activ8 in Trinity Street for accommodating our Hastings base since 2006.

Lastly, I would like to mention the following agencies that are all able to offer support:

n The Samaritans, available 24/7 on 08457 909090.

n Survivors of Bereavement by Suicide’s helpline is open from 9am to 9pm daily on 0844 561 6855.

n Papyrus, a charity dedicated to the prevention of young suicide, provides a confidential helpline (HOPELineUK – Tel: 0800 068 41 41).

TANIA FORWARD

Emmanuel Road