End of Year Statement by SOS Silence of Suicide Trustees – Michael Mansfield QC, Lorna Hackett and Tom Humphriss and CEO Yvette Greenway-Mansfield
Written by Michael Mansfield QC – Lead Trustee
This year has been completely overshadowed by COVID
No one has been untouched.
2020 has been a challenging year and one filled with loss for many of us.
Covid 19 has resulted in people losing loved ones, jobs and their homes. It has also put victims of domestic abuse and addiction at increased risk.
Yet despite the challenges, fear, anxiety and sadness 2020 has delivered, there has been a real sense of communities coming together to help support each other and our doctors and nurses.
Our collective spirit and actions, which have, at times, been divided, has ensured we retain hope, that we look beyond the dark days to the light which will surely be at the end of the tunnel.
Times have been challenging too for the charity sector, especially micro charities like ourselves and the financial polarisation within the charitable sector which can make development and progression difficult to achieve. But we do! And we will!
Nevertheless SOS has made some remarkable progress against all the odds thanks to the unstinting support of our ambassadors, funders, volunteers, donors, sponsors, partners, trustees, service users and friends.
At the centre however has been a veritable powerhouse of activity and ideas is our CEO Yvette
She is the sine qua non ! (Michael tells us this means ‘without whom’ !) Thank you Michael.
Our unique model of service ( diverse group in person meetings all over the UK) was developing fast when COVID struck.
We tried to replicate our discursive approach by online chats and webinars but whilst these were a vital tool they were not the same. The ‘physical’ touch that gives comfort to so many cannot be replicated.
However, in the midst of this, a welcome boost to our efforts came from the world of snooker where Yvette used to play on the women’s tour.
World Seniors Snooker formally sponsor SOS and work as partners. It is because of our partnership, coupled with Covid, that our support line became more than just an idea – it became a reality in September this year.
Look out for our SOS Angels on players during seniors televised events during 2021.
We are incredibly grateful to Jason Ferguson and Jason Francis for all their support and assistance. We look forward to developing our partnership further in 2021.
Launching a support line was not something that was going to happen for a couple of years. However, we operate similarly to the Samaritans (who have kindly supported so many of our physical meetings), although we offer a more conversational service, but like the Samaritans, we never judge and our service is completely confidential.
All at SOS have worked early mornings and very late nights to adapt, achieve and deliver in 2020. Not just our new support line, but our SOS Angels project, initially the brain child of Jason Francis from WSS as well as recruiting a social media co-ordinator and volunteer co-ordinator thanks to local funding sources.
We send our deepest thanks to Caroline Noel, from We Can Do Business, for her dedication, support and business acumen and help with funding applications.
Recruiting, training, retaining and safeguarding volunteers for our support line has been incredibly stressful and is a work in progress. In just 3 months, we have gone from taking a handful of calls every day to our peak on December 29th of 126 calls coming through to our 0300 number, and daily averages of between 60 and 70 incoming calls. What was steady and sustained growth has blossomed but we need more volunteers to support our vulnerable callers.
If this were not enough the website has undergone a transformation and despite significant delays and endless complications, Yvette, with the support of other good hearted people are almost there!
We also invested in two massive billboard campaigns in Coventry and London adjacent to the Dartford tunnel; SOS Angel lapel badges have gone on sale online, and in selected Midlands retail outlets run by another retail partner Next; Yvette has negotiated hard for grants to part fund the administrative posts now occupied by Lucy and Lolly; we continue webinars with business and Universities; and now biweekly on a Sunday Yvette has pioneered an informal 2 hour zoom’ talk in’ about whatever is on your mind. We are heartened by the amazingly positive feedback and return visitors.
Our planned Christmas Auction will now take place in the Spring on 2021, so keep visiting our site for updates on this – we have some amazing lots to auction thanks to the generosity of our ambassadors.
Many new partnerships were created in 2020, including Renegade Communications who voluntarily run our Google Adwords program for us.
We have also joined forces with 08 Phones Direct, who supply our 0300 support line number. In addition, we are official partners of ERS Office Supplies, based near Stratford upon Avon and leapt at the offer from Chloe Milham who offered to design our SOS Angels branding.
We would like to extend a warm welcome to our latest trustee, Anthony Cash.
Tony has volunteered with SOS since its launch night in 2015 and has donated huge amounts of time and advice to SOS. We are delighted to welcome him on board.
Finally, we want to say how excited we are about the plans for 2021. SOS is establishing itself as a trusted and safe place for people to seek support and we hope to develop a 24 hour support line later in 2021. This will ensure our repeat, and new service users have the maximum opportunity to speak to someone, when they most need support.
We send everyone connected to SOS, in whatever way, our sincere thanks for 2020 and best wishes for an improved, and happier, 2021
Dec 23 2020 Amended Dec 30 2020