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On September 9th, 2023, Sarah Mitas, Manager at MAKE@Aldingbourne Enterprises, and Lara Kynvin organised the inaugural "Let's Get Talking About Suicide" in Victoria Park, Portsmouth. In a world where suicide remains a largely unspoken topic, together, they are determined to drive change.
Navigating the sensitive and often taboo subject of suicide, they strengthened positive awareness, mental well-being, and community unity. There was live music, a physical zone featuring yoga, fitness, mindset maintenance, and dance, and a well-being zone offering meditation, comedy laughter sessions, music, and poetry. More than 45 local support services rallied at Victoria Park. Downtown Pompey was one of them who shared their appreciation for the day by saying, "Thank you for having us! Sprinkling Queer Joy across the city is such an important part of the work supporting LGBTQ+ (and all communities)!"
Dignitaries such as the Mayor, Mayoress, local councillors, and members of the public came by in their hundreds. Feedback and impact reports are already pouring in, with one organisation noting that four people approached them for help on the day. 'Andy's Mens Club' saw six additional attendees at their social meet-up as a result of Saturday's event. They are now receiving support instead of suffering in silence.
We are immensely thankful for the local media who got behind us through pre-event radio interviews and extensive press coverage before and after. 'Film 4 U' documented the journey from the event's inception earlier this year through execution and now as we plan what's next. While the editing process is ongoing, we can already tell you it's going to be an incredible watch.
Collaboration is underway with Portsmouth City Council, and there's unanimous agreement that this should become an annual tradition. As such, preparations are being made for next year's event scheduled for September 7th, 2024. For now, though, Sarah is planning monthly "Keep Talking" Workshops, open to the public and held at various locations, including MAKE. These will feature guest speakers from supporting organisations, signposting resources, and well-being and physical zone workshops. Quarterly meetings for "Let's Get Talking About Suicide" are also in the works, providing a platform for networking and planning the 2024 event to keep these vital conversations alive.
Written by Lizzie Williams