Rural Community Council (Leicestershire & Rutland)
The RCC is a registered charity that aims to support and represent rural communities in Leicestershire and Rutland, and to raise awareness of issues that can adversely affect people that live in such communities. We aim to improve the health and wellbeing of people living in rural communities, and a key aspect of this is suicide awareness training. Since 2009, we have delivered over 130 community-based Suicide Awareness training sessions to over 3,000 people.
How does your organisation contribute to preventing suicide and supporting those affected by it?
We work with people across Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland to raise awareness and help to prevent suicide. This is mainly through delivery of our simple but effective training sessions. These help people to examine their own attitudes; spot common risk factors and warning signs, and learn simple steps to help people in distress or affected by suicide. The significant majority of these sessions are based in local communities, are open to all, and free to attend. We believe that raising awareness and building resilience in local communities is crucial to suicide prevention – particularly as many people who die by suicide will not necessarily be receiving support from other (including mental health) services. The origin of our involvement in this area of work stems from our earlier Rural Stress Support project, prompted by the emotional distress evidenced in rural areas resulting from the 2001 foot and mouth crisis.
The RCC has long been a member of the Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland suicide prevention strategy group and has contributed to strategy development and various ‘task and finish’ groups. For 2019 and 2020 we have a specific role to support Leicestershire County Council in coordinating the new local #StartAConversation campaign. We aim to develop partnerships with other agencies and with local communities to support people in distress and to help prevent suicide.
What are your current priorities?
– To continue delivering our Suicide Awareness training across Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland. Specifically, however, we would hope to encourage a greater diversity of engagement.
– To reach further into local communities to raise awareness of the issue and to promote our belief that everyone can, potentially, help someone in distress and at risk of suicide.
– To encourage participation in the local #StartAConversation suicide prevention campaign.
What challenges are you currently facing?
No doubt in common with most voluntary and community (and other) organisations, further resources would enable us to deliver a more comprehensive service.
More generally, although we believe there has been significant progress over recent years to reduce stigma and raise awareness in the general population, we still encounter some resistance to the message that suicide can/should be everybody’s concern. Gaining access to challenge such views (and possibly to challenge attitudes or procedures) can be an obstacle.