Our Paul’s Place programme was launched in October 2017 and the plan was (for our first year) to offer up to 20 free sessions of one to one counselling to 40 people bereaved by suicide. However, by October 2018 we had actually had 78 people access our service – almost double the figure we had actually planned to help.
The fact that we were unable to access any NHS or Government funding to help set up and maintain our unique service, in no way deterred us. I suppose you could say we were on a mission; hardly surprising when you consider that we shared a lived experience of losing a loved one in such tragic and devastating circumstances and knew only too well that there was no specialist support available. We relied on fundraising efforts, donations and any grants we could pick up along the way. At the time of writing (April 2020) we have had 228 people access the service so far and sadly, we know that our numbers will continue to increase with time.
In 2019 we were very fortunate in securing funding of almost £338,000 from the National Lottery Community Fund. Although we only have this funding for a 3 year period, it has already been crucial in enabling us to expand on the absolutely vital work that we do here. We are now able to advertise our service to residents (aged 16 and over) across the whole Merseyside area. Most importantly, we have recently employed a part time advocacy worker, Jo McLaughlin; who has herself been bereaved by suicide and is a service user here. If you are experiencing practical problems, she is more than happy to offer advice and support.