Twelve months ago, Jessica Gallier was days away from opening the doors to the Wirral’s first suicide prevention centre.
When her father died by suicide in 2017, Jessica wanted to create an environment where people could access the support they needed.
A year later, and the Martin Gallier Project in New Ferry has maintained a 100% survival rate – just in time for the centre’s first birthday.
The Martin Gallier Project is situated on 57 New Chester Road in New Ferry.
After receiving a £10,000 grant from the National Lottery, the centre has since provided a vital helpline to vulnerable members of the community within its first year.
By delivering suicide prevention first aid training to members of the public, dedicated staff and volunteers have played a key role in supporting Wirral residents through periods of ill mental health and strife.
In Jessica’s eyes, reaching the first-year milestone feels ‘like a dream come true.’
Jessica said: “Achieving a zero-suicide rate was beyond our wildest dreams.
“It would not have been possible without the work of our team of volunteers, and those who trusted in us during their darkest moments.”
In just one year, The Martin Gallier Project has left no stone unturned to ensure nobody falls through the cracks.
From attaching hopeful messages across Wirral’s busiest bridges, to training 60 local businesses in suicide first aid, more than 400 people at risk of suicide have received support.
On average, the centre has saved one person every day since it opened its doors.
One attendee, who wished to remain anonymous, says the support delivered by The Martin Gallier Project helps him ‘live with the guilt’ of surviving trauma.
He said: “The help and support the team have given me in coping with my personal battles with PTSD have enabled me to find myself again.
“My life has moved from a dark place where I felt I had nowhere else to turn to, to a bright place filled with love and friendship.
“I enjoy dropping in when I am not working, and having a cup of tea in a really lovely, welcoming atmosphere, where everyone feels so welcome – no matter their background or experiences.”
Wirral has struggled with suicide prevention for many years.
In 2018, four out of ten individuals who lost their lives to suicide in Merseyside and Cheshire had a previous attempt on their record.
What’s more, waiting times to access life-saving mental health support has increased dramatically.
On average, a person on the Wirral waits up to 3 months before receiving a referral for talking therapies, counselling and emergency mental health support. Residents wait an average of two years for their first appointment.
Waiting for a prolonged period for support can cause immense trauma and distress.
Alison McGovern, MP for Wirral South, was on hand for the ribbon-cutting ceremony last year.
Ms McGovern told Mersey Community News that she is ‘proud’ of the progress made.
Ms McGovern said: “I am most proud that the Martin Gallier team have, over the past year, worked with 400 people who are still alive.
“Organisations like Martin Gallier are essential because they are plugging the gap left by chronic underfunding of mental health services.
“New Ferry was devastated by an explosion in March 2017 and the impact that that has had on residents’ health, and the inability of a struggling NHS to provide support to all affected has meant that programs such as the Martin Gallier Project have been an invaluable asset to just help people day-to-day on the town’s high street.”
The centre is open to all members of the public.
Yet for Jessica, the project’s future success hinges on the kindness and compassion of the whole community.
Jessica said: “Basic human kindness, when paired with education, are linchpins when it comes to building suicide-safer communities.
“We spend a large amount of time working to break down the stigma surrounding suicide, in the hope that it normalises conversations with families, workplaces, schools and friendship circles.”
Jessica is urging people struggling with suicidal thoughts to reach out and seek their support.
She said: “There’s absolutely no shame in seeking support. Come through our doors, pick up the phone. Talk to us – it could save your life.
“The world will not be a better place without you.”
For more information about The Martin Gallier Project, please visit https://www.gallierhouse.co.uk/
Anyone can contact Samaritans for FREE any time from any phone on 116 123, even a mobile without credit.
Other services available include:
1- The Papyrus Hopeline on 0800 068 4141
2 – Survivors of Bereavement by Suicide on 0300 111 5065
3 – Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) on 0800 58 58 58
4 – Mind on 0151 512 2200
5 – NHS 111
6 – Wirral Pathfinders on 0151 334 2111.