Derek Hall – St Helens Group / Helpline

In January 2013, my partner’s son, James, took his own life. It was devastating beyond anything I had ever experienced before. We heard of the local SoBS group and attended the February meeting. The help and support from Anne & Lorraine, who ran the group and the other members really helped, especially my partner and for the first few years she counted down the days to that monthly meeting. To sit, listen and talk to others who had gone through this was really helpful. Seeing other people, further on in their journey really gave us hope.

I remember my partner saying after the first meeting that a lady was ‘wearing makeup and had, had her hair done, I didn’t think anyone would ever be able to do that again’.

But slowly and surely, with small steps, we have reached a ‘new normal’ in our lives (Including make-up & hair styles). Although different to the life we had and wanted, we have a good life. After a couple of years, Anne & Lorraine said the charity was desperate for volunteers for the National Helpline. The group had been really helpful to my partner and I wanted to give something back, so I put myself forward. A while later, they asked if I would like to help with the group, which I now do. I find the two roles different. The group meetings, as well as part hosting the meeting and providing support, allows me a chance to participate as a survivor, the same as all the other people in the room. Something we all need from time to time. As the only non-working member of the facilitators, I also represent the group at Mental Health and Bereavement support forums in the area, linking in with other organisations and raising awareness of who we are and what we do. The Helpline, is different. You’re at the end of a phone talking to someone, probably, a long way off. I find the anonymity of this gives people the chance to be more open with both their feelings and their loved ones story, something they may not feel they could do in a room with other people. It is certainly more challenging and occasionally, stressful but the vast majority of calls end with a ‘Thank You, talking to you has really helped’.

The vast majority of calls end with a ‘Thank You, talking to you has really helped’.

I find that very rewarding and as well as having helped someone, it makes me feel good about myself, also, in a small way, I feel that although James is sadly not with us, he’s helping others in unfortunate circumstances, which is what he had been learning to do as a career.

Read more about the St Helens Group here

St Helens Group contact details here