A Devon charity which helps suicide bereaved families has opened a new branch in North Devon.
Pete’s Dragons officially opened its new base at the Link Centre in Barnstaple’s Alexandra Road on World Suicide Prevention Day on Monday.
The charity was founded by Alison Jordan after her brother, Pete Wicks, took his own life in 2010 at the age of 24.
While Pete’s Dragons has been able to offer one-to-one support for families affected by suicide, the new base will allow those using the service to access therapies, wellbeing workshops and more in North Devon.
Alison said: “We have been fully operational in Mid and East Devon for three and a half years, and I have been running up the North Devon Link Road once a week to try and provide a service for North Devon. We haven’t been able to provide the same level of service until now.
“Our service improves all the time and what we are able to provide now is completely bespoke for each and every family. That’s important, because grief affects everybody in a unique and individual way.
“We want to use this as an opportunity for people to realise we are here and we are looking to build links with the local community and other organisations.”
Alison said the decision to open on World Suicide Prevention Day both recognised and celebrated the fact North Devon residents can access a service should it be needed.
She added that attitudes to mental health and suicide had changed ‘tremendously’ since she founded the charity, but there is still more work to be done around suicide prevention, in part due to a lack of Government funding.
Figures from the Office for National Statistics show that there were 33 suicides in North Devon between 2015 and 2017 – a rate of 13.2 deaths per 100,000 people. In Torridge there were 20 suicides over the same period at a rate of 12.4 deaths per 100,000 people.
“There has been an enormous shift over the last two or three years,” said Alison.
“People are still nervous about talking about suicide and mental health, but that nervousness seems to be dropping and people are more willing to accept that mental health is something that can affect everybody.
“In terms of suicide prevention, it’s not anywhere near as good as it should be yet and there are a number of reasons for that.”
To find out more, visit petesdragons.org.uk.