A heroic primary school teacher is raising awareness of suicide prevention in young people by taking on an incredible challenge.
As a teacher, Phill has seen first hand the impact the coronavirus pandemic has had on his pupils mental health – from reception right through to year six.
With the majority of students working from home due to the national lockdown, along with uncertainty surrounding the pandemic and the restrictions on our day to day lives, it’s easy to see why many people are struggling at the moment.
In a bid to raise awareness of this and encourage people – both young and old not to suffer in silence, Phill is running 10k everyday for a year.
He started the challenge on September 1, 2020 and by September this year he will have done a total of 2,190 miles.
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Phill, 31, told the ECHO: “I’m a big football fan, I’m an Evertonian, so when the first lockdown started last year I decided to walk and run from every Premier League ground from Newcastle to Bournemouth just to make the children laugh.
“Once I finished that challenge I thought what can I do next? So I decided to run 10k everyday for a year.
“This one is to prevent people from suicide and raise awareness of mental health in young people.
“Everyone is struggling with the lockdown and it’s harder for a lot of people to get out depending on where you live and your own circumstances.
“Technology is fantastic but I think a lot of kids now just choose to sit indoors and play on this or play on that.
“As an example, we had an induction day for reception and teachers were giving out books which were really simple books and the children were swiping the page instead of turning it.”
Helplines and support groups
The following are helplines and support networks for people to talk to, mostly listed on the NHS Choices website
- Samaritans (116 123) operates a 24-hour service available every day of the year. If you prefer to write down how you’re feeling, or if you’re worried about being overheard on the phone, you can email Samaritans at email@example.com.
- Childline (0800 1111) runs a helpline for children and young people in the UK. Calls are free and the number won’t show up on your phone bill.
- PAPYRUS (0800 068 41 41) is an organisation supporting teenagers and young adults who are feeling suicidal.
- Mind (0300 123 3393) is a charity providing advice and support to empower anyone experiencing a mental health problem. They campaign to improve services, raise awareness and promote understanding.
- Students Against Depression is a website for students who are depressed, have a low mood or are having suicidal thoughts.
- Bullying UK is a website for both children and adults affected by bullying.
Amparo provides emotional and practical support for anyone who has been affected by a suicide. This includes dealing with police and coroners; helping with media enquiries; preparing for and attending an inquest and helping to access other, appropriate, local support services. Call 0330 088 9255 or visit www.amparo.org.uk for more details.
- Hub of Hope is the UK’s most comprehensive national mental health support database. Download the free app, visit hubofhope.co.uk or text HOPE to 85258 to find relevant services near you.
- Young Persons Advisory Service – Providing mental health and emotional wellbeing services for Liverpool’s children, young people and families. tel: 0151 707 1025 email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Paul’s Place – providing free counselling and group sessions to anyone living in Merseyside who has lost a family member or friend to suicide. Tel: 0151 226 0696 or email: email@example.com
The Martin Gallier Project – offering face to face support for individuals considering suicide and their families. Opening hours 9.30-16.30, 7 days a week. Tel: 0151 644 0295 email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Phill said: “I think we all have our own battles.
“I’m very close to my granddad who unfortunately suffers from Alzheimer. Everyday is totally different to the next for him.
“It’s partly to help me get out and if I can help other people to do the same that’s great.”
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Phill said the lockdowns has been difficult for pupils who are unable to see their friends like they usually would, but the school is doing everything they can to keep them engaged via online Zoom and video lessons.
So far the campaign has raised £2,700 and the support from pupils, parents and colleagues Phill said has been incredible.
He added: “I’m quite a shy person so it’s been a bit overwhelming but in a good way.
“I’ve had people inbox me saying ‘you’ve really helped me, I’ve been in a really dark place.’
“People who you’d never think were struggling until you actually speak to them.”
Phill is also hoping to inspire others to get outside and go for a run. He has had people joining him on different days of the challenge so far, both virtually and in person at a social distance.
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