THE annual Suicide Awareness and Support Group’s Mass of Hope is set to take place on Sunday November 18 with the need for its services more pressing than ever. 18 years after the West Belfast-based support group was established, centre manager Margaret Walker described the Mass as a way for those who have been affected by suicide or who are in crisis to come as a way of finding some solace of comfort.
“Our services are accessed throughout the entire year,” explained Margaret, “there is no specific need or peak time for our services, it is a constant. We do find that people tend to access the services after the Christmas period, the money has been spent so to speak and it’s the realisation of having to pay it back that hits once January comes. With the introduction of Universal Credit, the anxiety of people going through and awaiting the outcome of the PIPS process we are finding more and more people coming to access our services. Welfare reform is hitting us big time.”
Margaret continued: “We can support as much as we can but we are a very small team and there are about 80 to 100 people who come in every week, we are at the stage were we are having to create a waiting list for our ‘walk in’ service such is the need in the area and with that I need to ensure the self care of the staff here.”
“The Mass is to show the community that there is support there, that a person in crisis is not alone and that reaching out is a strength, it is not a weakness.”
Margaret spoke of how the Mass is very much open to all, “right across the board,” and added: “We are delighted to have Fr Paddy McCafferty saying the Mass. We are looking forward to welcoming all on the day as it is a very special service.”
The Mass of Hope will be held in Clonard Monastery on Sunday, November 18 at 3pm. All are welcome to attend.