Tuesday, 17 December 2019

Life after SPOTY

BBC Sporting Unsung Heroes
Life after SPOTY

At SPOTY this weekend, we met so many people with so many stories, so very many people doing such amazing things to serve their communities, overcoming so many obstacles.

I also came across an unnerving number of people affected by suicide; a lady who left the hotel on Monday to attend the funeral of a 22yr old man; many people who arrived late by train because there was ‘an incident’ on the line; a cameraman who’s daughter went to school with two 14yr old girls who died by suicide. 

I came away wondering why it is that suicide is still on the increase, why it’s still such a silent epidemic despite the immense amount of great work being done by so many amazing people. On September 10th I listened to Louis Appleby, a Professor of Psychiatry who leads the National Suicide Prevention Strategy for England. He said that we’re getting good at talking about suicide – but it’s not working to prevent it, there must be ‘something else’. 'Something else' needs to be done to prevent suicide and protect our communities from it. 

I'm wondering if that 'something else' might be prayer. While we were away, I remembered that “…we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness…” and that “prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long.” (Ephesians 6, ESV and MSG versions). 

I’ve proved I can run hard and long, but prayer? I’ve barely managed a mile in terms of prayer. Like the thought of running a marathon, the aim of a worldwide movement of praying runners seems impossible, the goal to pray to beat suicide seems many miles away. 

That’s alright though. I used to think that teaching people to Walk2Run was impossible too, but was rewarded this week by receiving the BBC Sports Unsung Hero award for the South East. So what can I learn from that journey that I can bring to this new adventure? What can I learn from Walk2Run training?
  • Take the first step - stop faffing, stop trying to understand everything, and just begin. 
  • Keep a training logbook for planning and recording sessions – because planning makes things happen, and recording successes and failures helps you get better.
  • Fuel each session properly - with reading the word of God. 
  • Plan an event goal – my first 5k in prayer (perhaps a prayer breakfast at the end of January?)
  • Build in a long run, increasing by small increments each week – starting 7th January 2020 at 9.30am every Tuesdays at The Pelham 
  • Build in a recovery week every 4 weeks – keep it short and review progress
  • Prepare your kit the night before – notebook, bible, water, no hangovers allowed. 
  • And finally, find a running buddy or two – if anyone else wants to join me to help train in prayer, please let me know. I need you!
Other people pray faithfully for me and for RunningSpace.org. But me? I've come about as far as I can under my own steam, it's now time to knuckle down to praying. I'd love you to join me. 

Come and run with pray with us, might just change your life. 

Tuesday, 16 April 2019

Running to Beat Suicide

“Jacky Youldon’s running group helps suicide survivors and their friends and families find their feet again.” (Sam Murphy, Runner’s World, June 2019)

RunningSpace began in 2016 with me volunteering to teach a group of six non runners how to run. In the three years since, we’ve trained over two hundred people, eighty percent of whom were completely new to running.

Many participants have been affected by suicide, including me – either attempting to take their own lives or having lost family or friends to suicide. Other attendees live with mental health conditions, from anxiety and depression to schizophrenia and autism.

We have trained over a hundred people in safeTALK, a World Health Organisation (WHO) ratified suicide prevention training programme. We are now looking ahead to the next steps in order to fulfil our mission.
Mission Statement
Our passion and calling are to see every life lived in all its fullness and not one be lost to suicide.
How will we achieve this?
  • By educating and training communities to become able, appropriate and available to those suffering with thoughts of suicide.
  • By pioneering a worldwide movement of runners who will run, pray, and raise awareness for those affected by suicide.
  • By working with communities to build prevention and recovery programmes which include Walk2Run groups, building relationship connections, developing links with clinicians, facilitating volunteering, and job creation for example.

We believe that “every person we run with has treasure and riches within them, often buried deep under hurt and pain of abuse, abandonment, and rejection. Our purpose is to run shoulder to shoulder with you, and in running to help shake the dirt off each other’s lives and pull out the treasure.”

The WHO estimates that each year approximately 800,000 people die from suicide. This means that someone dies by suicide almost every forty seconds. For every suicide there are an estimated twenty attempts: every two seconds someone in the world is trying to kill themselves.

RunningSpace currently delivers five Walk2Run groups per week across Bexhill and Hastings, we have trained up three new coaches from within our own ranks, with a further six are about to begin their own coaching journey. Of those nine, at least six are survivors of suicide. Sessions are completely free including refreshments. Many people struggling with suicide and mental health are also struggling financially.

Almost since inception, we have been based at The Pelham charity in Bexhill with whom we share the same vision, to see people restored. The Pelham is a Christian endeavour, recognised for its contribution towards all aspects of health and wellbeing. RunningSpace has recently been adopted as a partnership project of the charity, a mutually supportive relationship that enables us to offer connection, volunteering and other training opportunities, as well as a shared infrastructure and support through the CEO and The Pelham Trustees.

We are based in Bexhill, but of course suicide happens everywhere. We have received requests to help people set up their own Walk2Run groups to beat suicide in other areas of Sussex and the South of England. We plan to
  • Follow a social franchising model to enable us to expand without growing an organisation the traditional way that creates a distance from the ‘frontline’. Through building RunningSpace as a social franchise, we can benefit from the existing local expertise, experience and knowledge in other locations whilst spreading our message widely and consistently.
  • Develop a training and mentoring programme to provide progression pathways for participants whilst at the same time increasing capacity.
  • Produce resources and materials to support the delivery of Walk2Run groups ‘where you are’, following the proven and pioneering successful tools, skills and ethos we’ve worked hard on for the last three years.
  • Begin the working out of the vison of the intercessory element of RunningSpace. We will develop our WhatsApp group of people who pray for those affected by suicide. We also want to deliver the first stages of a new project, Running in the Gap, to offer prayers, raise awareness or provide support for those affected by suicide.
  • Build on our trusted status we have in Rother to grow our connections with clinicians and other suicide support agencies.T
  • he Walk2Run groups are currently funded by Optivo, a local housing association, and the Heart of Sidley, a Big Lottery fund recipient until July 2019.

You can support the ministry by visiting our website RunningSpace.org and clicking on the Give.Net button, or this link will take you straight there. 

Many many thanks for your support in advance, 

Jacky and the team

Come and run with us, it might just change your life...

Friday, 25 January 2019

Call it what it is

Are you thinking about suicide? If you are, tell someone. 
There is help out there, please click here 

I was chatting with a Walk2Runner this morning about the RunningSpace logo and my plan to add a tag line to it, ‘Running to beat Suicide’.

He balked a little and suggested I might want to consider something less full-on, such as Running to beat Despair.

The trouble is, I AM Running to Beat Suicide. Ever since I started this journey, I've been very clear that I must not dilute the message. We run, but it’s not to lose weight, get fit, make friends, it’s not even to support good mental health, although it does all of the above and more. Our number one and our only goal is to Run to beat Suicide.

Let’s explode a myth. Asking someone with thoughts of suicide “are you thinking about suicide”…

…Does NOT
                Put the idea into their head. After all, it’s extremely unlikely that they’re never heard of suicide or know that it’s an option

                Let that person know that you are comfortable and confident talking about suicide. Direct talking actually reduces risk and increases safety. In fact, if you ask someone who is feeling suicidal directly “Are you thinking about suicide?”, they often feel relieved.

As I teach safeTALK Suicide Alertness for Everyone, I can pretty much tell who in the room has experienced suicidal thoughts. It tends to be those who have never encountered it that find it difficult to say the word. And that’s completely OK, that was me too, and that’s why they’ve chosen to attend the training.  

What euphemisms do we use instead of talking directly about suicide? We talk about “doing something silly” (could be dressing up as Ronald Macdonald). We talk about “feeling like I’ve had enough” (chocolate cake?). We also are pretty OK with “are you self-harming?”. Yet even this, though tragic and needing support, does not help us know whether suicide is involved or not.  

How then do we know if suicide is involved?

There is only one way.

Ask directly. “Are you thinking about suicide”.

If the answer is ‘yes’, the next step is simply to listen. Say “This is important, I am listening.”

My passion is to see every life lived in all its fullness and not one be lost to suicide. For now, I am letting you know that by using our new logo we are saying that we are comfortable and confident talking about suicide, and we are Running to Beat Suicide.

Come and run with us, it might just save a life.

Sunday, 6 January 2019

Send us your stories

If you're feeling like you want to die, Get Help Now

Are you a survivor or suicide? Firstly, well done, we’re so pleased you’re here.

Secondly, we would like to hear your story. Telling stories is powerful way to share hope and to show others that there can be a full life beyond feeling suicidal.

We also know that the best way to make our communities suicide safer is by talking about suicide. Fact.

We’ll leave it up to you whether you keep your story anonymous or use your name. By sending us your story we will assume that until or unless you tell us otherwise, you’re happy for us to pass your story on to benefit others who might need your encouragement. Write your story, use video, photos, art, whatever works for you!

One day I’d like to put stories of life in all its fullness together in a book. Let's dream a little...

For now, we look forward to hearing from you and being inspired to life. You can email your story to  Jacky@RunningSpace.org

Bless ya

Sunday, 23 December 2018

We'd rather turn to no-one than the church.

If you’re feeling like you want to die, Get Help Now

Yesterday while out for a run with a client we were talking about church. I laughed and told her I wasn’t allowed to go to mine. I told her my story and how it lead, in part, to my suicide attempt. I don’t think I spoke badly about the church except to say that they were mistaken in how they handled things. I recounted that when I trained for my ASIST suicide prevention certificate, I had broken down in tears, how when the trainer asked if I had any support I broke down even further because I had lost my church family.

Of the many things I’ve learned about suicide, a real big one is that isolation is dangerous.

Also on the ASIST course I had a revelation - that rather than stay bitterly hurt and angry at the church for not listening to my screams, the solution was in education. They had acted in love, but in ignorance, and I have spoken to too many others who’ve had a similar experience.

That photo above shouts out the problem and this same pattern is repeated hundreds of times over - people who are struggling to cope with suicidal thoughts do not turn to the church. In fact, they would prefer to tell no-one. 

If the church really is God’s solution, and I believe it is, then something is terribly wrong, but what can we do about it? Well, we've stared by launching RunningSpace
At RunningSpace we are returning to that original goal of Running to beat suicide. How? By educating communities in
safeTALK, focusing on Christians (who are the church, I don’t give a crap about denominations or buildings) and by
Running in the Gap adventures.

I’ve been guilty of watering down the RunningSpace message in order to be ‘inclusive’ – but really, there are more Christians in the world that I could possibly run with or educate!

2018 has been a huge learning curve and there have been many successes. More importantly, lives have been saved and changed.

In 2019, we need your help. Would you please pray for doors to open for us so that we can educate and train churches, communities and individuals in Walk2Run and safeTALK
Please help us pray and intercede for anyone affected by suicide as we run our first Running in the Gap adventure from Bexhill to Canterbury in the spring.

Here’s to Running to beat Suicide and to trusting God with that original vision

Come and run with us, it might just change your life...

Thursday, 13 December 2018

How to shine while running in the dark

I read this today
…let your light shine before men so that they can see your good deeds…”.

Well that’s not very British is it? Sounds a lot like ‘blowing your own trumpet’ to me. It could descend into boasting, it could lead to jealousy and envy, even vandalism! Yikes!  
Ok so I was kind of cheating there, taking that phrase out of its context, which helped me see something I’d never seen before – that your good deeds are brilliant and it’s fun to let other people see them.

Here’s the whole paragraph.

“Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a basket. Instead, they set it on a lampstand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men so that they can see your good deeds and glorify God

It’s the results that are important isn't it? We let our good deeds shine out and everybody benefits Letting our own lights shine gives light to everyone so that they can see. And then other people will glorify God. That’s a win for me, a win for other people and a win for God.  

A little example
Here’s a little example from when I was on the till yesterday at The Pelham, and 2 customers came in for the first time.

Me: You’re very welcome here, we make the best coffee in the world [smile], how can I help?
Customer: Really? What coffee is it?
Me: It’s Kingdom Coffee, but it’s also that we let our coffee brew for 28 seconds which brings out the sweetness of the bean, we use the best locally produced whole frothy milk, and we have Allen, who is the best barista in the world.
Customer: Wow, that’s a perfect storm! We’ll have a latte and a cappuccino please.
After drinking the coffee…
Customer: That was the best coffee I’ve ever had in my life
Me: Told ya! Thank you, glad you enjoyed it
Customer: Not only that, there’s something different about this place, a different feel somehow. Thank you for your friendly welcome, we’ll see you next week.

A tiny running sermon
Final thought. Early morning running at this time of year requires a head torch to see and be seen, and mine is lovely and bright. Not to be outshone, a client bought himself a brand new extra bright head torch. Now we run shoulder to shoulder with twice the light, twice the safety, twice the visibility.

Let’s allow our collective good deeds to shine, and we’ll produce many times the light, many times the safety, and many times the visibility.

Come and run with us, it might just change your life...

Tuesday, 11 December 2018

I'm grateful for running because...

Why do I run? I run to beat suicide, I run to keep healthy, I run to donate money to suicide prevention charities and I run because I am in faith that in running together we will beat suicide.

If you’d like to know how to join us, or how to get started learning to Walk2Run for FREE, please contact me on Jacky@Walk2Run.org

I love running with other people. The ‘power of the appointment’ gets me out of the door at 6 am every day and keeps me as motivated as the people I run with. Today I’ve run in the frosty dark countryside along lakesides and cow fields, closely followed by beach running under a full blazing December sun. I love running with other people. 

I also love running by myself. 
If you’ve never done it before, or it’s been a while, you should try it. 

Even on a short easy walk or run, you begin to hear yourself as the noise of a busy life fades away. It’s beautifully simple and not at all forced, you can hear your own breathing, the sounds of your own footfall, you start to pay attention to how hot or cold you are, you start to take notice of yourself. And then there are the thoughts and stresses of the week that seem to untangle themselves with every step. If you sat me in a room to ‘reflect’ for 30 minutes I’d fidget, I’d cough or sneeze, and my thoughts would turn to washing up, the next phone call, the school letter I should have returned. But in the process of running, even those thoughts just seem to effortlessly find their own place.

The mental health benefits of learning to run are well documented (google it), but you'll never really believe it until you try it. 

Come and run with us, it might just change your life.