Led by health providers and local authorities from the Kent and Medway Sustainability and Transformation Partnership (STP), groups are being offered between £500 and £5000 to support projects designed to prevent suicide and reduce self-harm.
Figures for 2017 show there were 141 suicides in Kent and Medway which shows a year on year reduction since 195 suicides in 2014 but is still higher than the national average.
Lauretta Kavanagh, Mental Health Programme Director for the Kent and Medway STP said: “We will keep working tirelessly to reduce deaths by suicide. Most local people who take their own lives are not known to our specialist mental health services, so we’re reaching out to our communities to innovate - test a new idea, device or method - so that all of us may learn more about how to prevent suicide. We want to understand what makes a difference to people who are feeling suicidal and what works to keep them safe during those periods of their life.”
The fund is being overseen by the Kent and Medway Suicide Prevention Steering Group which produced the 2015-20 suicide prevention strategy and action plan, following national priorities to reduce the risk of suicide in key high-risk groups and tailor approaches to improve mental health and wellbeing in the county.
Professor Catherine Kinane, Executive Medical Director of the Kent and Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership Trust said: “This is funding for people to develop little or big ideas, with the ultimate goal of helping to prevent people taking their own life. By working together as a county, we can make a difference and help to prevent harm and save lives.”
A total of £82,000 is available, of which £15,000 is reserved for suicide prevention and self-harm reduction projects working with children and young people.
KCC Director for Public Health, Andrew Scott-Clark, said: “This innovation grant is designed to fund grassroots programmes to prevent suicides, save lives and reduce self-harm.
“This could be something simple like a sports team wanting to promote the ‘Release the Pressure’ campaign* on their kit or a young person’s organisation which puts on activities to reduce social isolation. We know that in the right hands, a little can go a long way, so we want to support local groups who are doing so much to keep people safe.”
Cllr David Brake, Medway Council’s Portfolio Holder covering Public Health, said: “We are committed to reducing suicides in Medway. They have a devastating impact on families and the wider community. We are delighted to be able to offer local communities this funding opportunity on World Suicide Prevention Day. The funding will support community projects which work to reduce suicide and self harm which will help save lives.”
Any community group, charity or organisation can apply. The majority of the funding is likely to be awarded to local groups from the voluntary or charity sectors.
Bids will be considered by a small panel from the multi-agency Suicide Prevention Steering Group. The panel will include representation from Public Health, CCGs and where possible people impacted by suicide.
Applications need to be submitted through the Community Grants Funding Page on www.kent.gov.uk/savinglives and applications must be received by 11th October 2018. Funded projects need to be delivered by 31st March 2019.
*The Release the Pressure campaign urges people to seek help by calling Freephone 0800 107 0160 where support is available from trained and experienced staff 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The campaign website www.releasethepressure.uk also includes case studies from men in Kent who have turned their lives around after attempting suicide.