mental health


Marking International Day of Friendship

There’s a saying that a stranger is just a friend you don’t know yet.

We have all experienced that feeling of walking into a new place – a new school or college, a new job, a new sports team or art class – and wondering whether we will find people we like and who will like and accept us in return.

Imagine how that feeling must be amplified when you arrive in a new country. You have left your friends and family – the people who knew you growing up, the people who have seen the best and worst of you, the people who get your sense of humour, who know what your favourite food or film is. You arrive somewhere strange, where you don’t speak the language, where everything looks and sounds and smells different from the people to the traffic lights to the music played in shops.

How wonderful then to have people extend their hearts, and even their homes, to you. To come and talk to you and get to know you.

We all need friends. This week, to mark International Day of Friendship, let’s remember those people, asylum seekers and refugees, from Ukraine, Syria, Afghanistan and elsewhere, who are more in need of friends than most.

This year’s theme is communication between communities. At VSNS, we have seen first-hand at our recently launched drop-in for Ukrainian families and their hosts what a difference being able to meet people and talk and learn and share with each other, in a community, has made to the people we have supported. There have been tears – lots of them. But there’s also been laughter and conversation and new friendships formed.

Those friendships might not have had the chance to blossom if it wasn’t for the support of Runnymede Borough Council and the Community Foundation for Surrey. We would like to thank them, and all the other organisations in our area supporting much-needed friendships. And thank you too to all the volunteers who befriend and support groups such as ours, so that no one need feel they are alone.


Reflections on Samaritans 'Talk to Us' month

CEO Solette Sheppardson reflects on Samaritans ‘Talk to Us’ month this July:

“Many of us – at least one in four – will experience some sort of mental health issue during our lifetime. But for some people, feelings of being overwhelmed and despair become unbearable.

“Last year, GetSurrey reported that suicide levels in Surrey rose over the previous year, despite an overall drop in the UK, with 130 recorded suicides in 2020.

“We are fortunate to have North West Surrey Samaritans in our area, with dedicated volunteers available around the clock, every day of the year, ready to respond to people who feel alone or unable to cope.

“There are also a range of support services from Community Connections to the Safe Havens which provide a place for people in crisis to go for help.

“Sometimes we're concerned about someone we care about but unsure how to start a conversation. People worry they may make things worse – but the evidence shows that this isn’t the case. If there’s someone you want to support, but don’t know where to start, free training is available.

“People’s needs change and improvements are always possible. There is a consultation open across Surrey until Friday 18th July for people who use mental health services and professionals who refer to them. If this is you, please take the survey – your feedback is always useful.”

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Suicide First Aid Training with Surrey County Council

Surrey County Council is offering fully funded Suicide First Aid training until September 2022.  This course is available to all Surrey based residents and organisations. The training is delivered by the award-winning charity Grassroots Suicide Prevention.

The one day training is delivered online. Learn and practice the skills needed to identify someone who may be thinking about suicide, and to competently intervene to help to create a safe plan.
Accredited by: City and Guilds. Upon satisfactory completion participants attain 6 NQF credits at level 4.

Current course listings:

  • Tuesday 12th July 2022 – Suicide First Aid – Please book here
  • Thursday 14th July 2022 – Suicide First Aid – Please book here
  • Monday 18th July 2022 – Suicide First Aid – Please book here
  • Friday 9th September 2022 - Suicide First Aid, Working with Young People – Please book here
  • Wednesday 15th September 2022 – Suicide First Aid – Please book here
  • Monday 19th September 2022 – Suicide First Aid – Please book here
  • Wednesday 28th September 2022 – Suicide First Aid – Please book here
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