London Borough of Barnet

Barnet is the second largest borough by population in London, it has 30 town centres and is home to over 389,000 people, 26,000 businesses, and 1,000 charities. With over 90 spoken languages, 44% of residents born in another country and the largest Jewish community in London, the borough prides itself on its diverse communities and being a place where people feel welcomed and celebrated.

How does your organisation contribute to preventing suicide and supporting those affected by it?

Barnet’s Suicide Prevention Strategy 2021-25 was approved by Health and Well-being Board in July 2021. The partnership delivering the strategy is multi-agency and multi-disciplinary reflecting the complexity of suicidal behaviour. The strategy has eight key action areas responding to the negative impact of the pandemic and increased cost of living on mental well-being and other risk factors including financial difficulties, bereavement, social isolation and loneliness and domestic violence. The partnership ran a particularly strong suicide prevention campaign, led by public health, which focused on reducing lives lost to suicide in working-age men. For the three months of the campaign, no suspected suicides were recorded in the Real Time Surveillance System (RTSS), with only a slow increase in numbers since. Through our Resilient Schools Programme a significant amount of work with schools in raising awareness of suicide and self-harm and mechanisms for signposting to relevant services has taken place. A range of training programmes delivered in partnership with Papyrus, Grassroots and other organisations.

What are your current priorities?

Refreshing Barnet’s strategy actions aligning with the priorities within the forthcoming National Suicide Prevention Plan.
Ongoing focus on men who work in male-dominant industries.
Outreach to to high-risk groups including Eastern European and Jewish communities.
Promoting Zero Suicide Alliance training via lunch and learn sessions to show the video followed by discussion.
Targeted digital campaign to increase usage of Stay Alive app.
Peer-to-peer support to men through Andy’s Man Club.
Strengthening mental health and suicide prevention services pathways – including homelessness and asylum seekers/refugees.
Strengthening our Expert by Experience network.
Piloting a peer-Champion scheme for young people
“Wise before the Event” training for all secondary schools.
Ensuring all schools continue to have a Youth Mental Health First Aider and a member of staff trained in suicide prevention.
Generation Verified Film: Exploring the unique generational challenges that young people face – Impact the digital world has on young people’s mental health
Developing multiple suicide response plan.

What challenges are you currently facing?

Impact of Covid 19 and Cost of Living on mental health
Front line staff resilience – staff experiencing the impact of Cost of Living and yet they have to support people with complex needs worsen by Cost of Living crisis.
Small voluntary groups or faith organisations don’t have capacity to prioritize suicide prevention.
School attainment becoming even more of a dominant focus for schools because of lost learning during the pandemic – impact on staff and students
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