Newcastle to host UK’s biggest suicide prevention initiative to spread a unifying message of hope

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The Baton of Hope will come to Newcastle next week to raise awareness for suicide prevention.

The biggest suicide prevention initiative the UK has ever seen will visit Newcastle next week.

The Baton of Hope aims to highlight the suicide crisis which sees 17 people take their own lives every day.

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The baton will embark on a tour of 12 cities across the UK, starting in Glasgow on Sunday 25 June, before reaching Downing Street on Thursday 6th July.

A unifying message of hope, the baton will reach Newcastle on 27th June.

Jayne Walsham, project lead for the Newcastle leg, lost her daughter to suicide in 2021. Jodi had ASD and battled with undiagnosed ADHD, lack of support and not receiving the help she was entitled to, which triggered heightened anxiety. When two job offers were withdrawn due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Jodi’s purpose and stability were taken away and this led to a decline in her mental health.

Jayne and her daughter Jodi Jayne and her daughter Jodi
Jayne and her daughter Jodi | Jayne Baton of Hope

Jayne, who will also carry the Baton, says, “I believe everyone needs to unite and support suicide prevention to really make a difference. Suicide is the biggest killer of young people in this country and we need to start talking about it. We are losing too much potential and promise and it’s my mission to break the stigma. The Baton of Hope will help to bring both change and awareness and I am proud to be leading the tour in Newcastle.”

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At 8am, the Baton will leave North Shields, travelling to Whitley Bay. At Spanish City, the Survivors of Bereavement by Suicide (SoBS) will host the Baton and David Malone’s Male Voice Choir will sing the Baton of Hope anthem. A trio of supercars will take the Baton to the Blue Flame Sports Ground, where 50 children from local schools will be in attendance and will enjoy training sessions from The Rugby Falcons and FA coaches.

In Jesmond Dene the Baton will be met by members of the emergency services at Millfield House. Then heading to The Ouseburn, there will be a small festival of music and art and Melody Reed will perform Stay, a poem written about suicide, whilst The Rock Choir will perform at the Millennium Bridge area, Gateshead. Here, the Baton will go to Grey’s Monument, welcomed by ReCoCo, a mental health support service where people can learn from each other’s lived experiences.

Baton of Hope UK website (https://batonofhopeuk.org/)

Local charities, MPs and the Mayor will be present at Newcastle University for talks about the work being done by these charities including Anxious Minds, If u care share, The Headlight Project and Samaritans to support those in the local community suffering with mental ill health, before the Baton reaches the Royal Victoria Infirmary. Here, the RVI Choir will perform once the baton arrives. At 6pm, the Baton will reach its final destination, St James’ Park, where the doors will be open to the public for an event with inspirational speakers and entertainers. The event will be free and open to the public. Full details of the route can be found here: https://batonofhopeuk.org/the-tour/newcastle-route/.

Throughout the tour, the Baton will be carried by notable personalities, those with lived experience of mental ill health, and people with their own inspiring stories of hope. This includes charity ambassadors and supporters Dr Alex George, the UK Youth Mental Health Ambassador, Sheffield Wednesday and Wales midfielder Will Vaulks, and Norman Cook, aka DJ Fatboy Slim. In Newcastle, the Baton will be carried predominantly by family and friends bereaved to suicide.

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