By the nature of the work we do here at CAP, we meet lots of particularly vulnerable people, many of whom struggle with mental ill-health. The truth is that mental ill-health and poverty are an incredibly dangerous combination, but sadly a very common one. Perhaps unsurprisingly, poverty can often have a knock-on effect on a person’s wellbeing, just as mental health struggles can contribute to poverty. As a result, more than a third of our clients have considered or attempted to end their own life before seeking help.
Of course, this is not the answer. No matter how desperate things may seem, we know that there’s always hope. As Christians, we’re called to demonstrate God’s love and to show people how valued and treasured they are.
And that’s exactly what the amazing CNI Network (Christian Nightlife Initiatives) is doing through their new campaign, Loved, which aims to spread positivity to people that need it, particularly those struggling to cope with life.
The CNI Network is the organisation behind Street Angels, who you’ll probably have seen, even if you haven’t heard of them. In their high visibility jackets, Street Angels brave the cold to go out into town and city centres across the UK late at night, looking out for vulnerable people and keeping them safe.
‘Often alcohol and drugs can cause emotions to heighten and our teams are available to chat, help, listen and care,’ says Paul Blakely, who founded the network. ‘One team of Street Angels was sharing with me that a young man approached them asking for help because he wanted to end his life. The team walked him to A&E where they sat with him, got him a coffee, listened and reassured him before the A&E team could take over at 5am.’
It’s encounters like this that became the basis of the Loved campaign, which is designed to reach people experiencing suicidal thoughts, as well as trauma, depression and other mental health struggles. They’re placing posters, art, messages and even team members in risk areas, as well as online, in churches and across communities, to remind people that there’s always a way out and a brighter future ahead.
‘The idea was sparked by several conversations that took place following some tragic events in our community. Sadly, almost daily, for a few weeks in late December 2018 and early January 2019, several people ended their lives or contemplated doing this. The Calderdale Methodist Circuit, Calderdale Chaplains and CNI Network joined together to put some Angels with positive messages in key places over Christmas and in January and we felt that this needed to continue.’
‘Together we are demonstrating God's kingdom of love, peace, acceptance, forgiveness, transformation as a reality for people and communities – we are people of hope sharing hope for others. Our everyday and ordinary, achieving the profound and world changing.’
The Loved campaign website is full of ideas and downloadable resources to help you bring hope to those who are struggling. You could make a huge difference to a person’s life just by letting them know how much you care.
A similar campaign by Samaritans, Small Talk Saves Lives, encourages us to strike up a conversation with people who we think are struggling, even if they’re a stranger on the train. As Brits, we like to keep ourselves to ourselves, but this campaign is all about the power of a simple hello, a kind word or a quick chat. As Samaritans say, ‘Small talk doesn’t just break the ice… it can also interrupt someone’s suicidal thoughts’.
So, let me end by saying this: you are loved. You are important. You matter. You are beloved by the creator of the stars above you and the earth beneath your feet. Take care of yourself and take care of one another. You can make it through this, but you don’t have to make it through on your own. Talk to someone, today.