A  new campaign ‘We Hear You’ has been launched to get people in Bristol talking about mental health and raise awareness of The Santuary, a unique service run by St Mungo’s in the City for people experiencing emotional distress.

The Sanctuary, was opened in April 2015 and is commissioned as part of Bristol Mental Health services. Unlike many services, The Sanctuary is open weekend nights from 7pm until 1:30am.

Over each weekend an average of 20 people visit The Sanctuary but staff want to ensure others know about this vital service. We Hear You campaign aims to make more people aware so they can access the help they need before they reach crisis point.

According to the latest statistics from Public Health England, the rate of death by suicide in Bristol is above the three year average for the South West and for England, with 12.8 deaths by suicide per 100,000 people. (England 10.1 and South West 11). The City Council’s Joint Strategic Needs Assessment states there were 137 suicides in Bristol between 2012 and 2014.

“We want people to know we are here for them.”

Richard Popp, St Mungo’s Sanctuary Manager said: “Three out of four people who visit The Sanctuary are considering suicide or serious self-harm. We want people to know we are here for them. The Sanctuary is a welcoming safe space available for anyone feeling they can’t cope or are feeling desperate over the weekends. We help people find some stability and make a plan to stay safe. People can spend time talking through their situation with a trained worker, or just take some breathing time.”

“I was at my lowest”

Shaun began visiting The Sanctuary in December 2016 after two serious attempts at taking his own life. He still occasionally uses the service. He said:

“I was in crisis. I had taken two serious attempts to end my life. I was at my lowest. It was my daughter who phoned for help. I think she called the police. It’s all a blur, but the lady who came with the police, told me about The Sanctuary.

“It was wonderful to come to The Sanctuary, to stay as long as I needed to and meet friendly people; with the combination of talking to people and counselling I left The Sanctuary feeling ‘ok’ and with a realisation that there was something  that could alleviate the pain. I lost my suicidal thoughts and had, now, a little bit of hope from which I could build my recovery.”

St Mungo’s has partnered with sports and leisure provider, Everyone Active, Cabot Circus and The Galleries to place adverts in premises across Bristol encouraging people to get in touch with The Sanctuary if they need to talk.

How to get in touch with The Sanctuary

Open Friday – Monday, from 7pm until 1:30am.

To book your space call 0117 954 2952. Text: 07709 295 661. Phone lines open at 5pm.

Email: awp.bmhsanctuary@nhs.net.

How to show your support for We Hear You Campaign

If you would like stickers for your workplace please email: jo.lenny@mungos.org