Recently, we were honoured to host two separate awareness-raising stalls at the bustling Ealing Broadway station in London.

Staffed by PAPYRUS’s England South Team, a few highly dedicated volunteers and some of the friendly Elizabeth Line Ambassador team, the results of our efforts were incredible and far exceeded any of our expectations.

Ealing Broadway is a high-footfall station, with thousands of people passing through, particularly during the rush hour periods. During our visits, members of the public spanning all ages and backgrounds approached the stall to find out more about the charity. Some of them brought personal experiences of their connections with suicide, while others were impressed by our mission and wanted to support us. Almost £800 was raised across both days, purely due to the generosity of those who came by, which is an astonishing feat.

Not only were these donations and personal stories from the public so moving, but so were those of the Elizabeth Line staff. Almost all had tales of suicides they had prevented, with some even wearing special badges depicting the number of lives they had saved. They told our team about the mental health and suicide interventions they had conducted or conversations they had sparked with people who looked distressed. One spoke in depth about an encounter which saw them dedicate a number of hours to ensuring the safety of a woman who portrayed concerning behaviour, and waited with her until she was able to receive the appropriate support she required from a local mental health service.

We also learned of a scheme that was being implemented to provide financial aid and alleviation to those skipping transport fares or who otherwise were struggling to afford their travel cards. Rather than taking a hard-line approach, designated staff would take the time to look at the individual behind the offence. Conversations were offered to them, and support was given to those in financial need. Knowing that financial stress can contribute to thoughts of suicide, this kind of help can make a huge difference.

The kindness and accommodation of the Elizabeth Line Ambassador team were also a huge stand out, as they made sure we were looked after throughout both days and kept warm with cups of tea and coffee. Their openness to speak about suicide with those on the stall, and passers-by, was eye-opening and will massively contribute towards creating a suicide safer community across public transport networks.

Of the tens and hundreds of verbal interactions that were had, thousands will have walked past the stall, taken in our name, and hopefully remembered our charity. Had our team not been present and engaging with the wider community in Ealing, then the conversation about suicide could have been hidden from view, and the days at that station and among those commuters would have come and gone as usual.

There is also no denying the kindness and commitment of PAPYRUS volunteers to carve out their free time to fight the wind and rain to support us.

One volunteer, Prentis, recalls: “A VERY memorable moment was when a young, very happy-looking woman stopped to donate some cash and she said to Lauren and myself ‘Your organisation saved my life’. She clearly meant it.”

Another, Fiona, said: “It was so great to be representing PAPYRUS. During my time at the stall, we spoke to some really great people and had some inspiring conversations about their personal experiences with young suicide, and their interest in the work that PAPYRUS does. It was a really great day to be out in the community and to help raise awareness!”

Whether just a few interactions were had or many; it’s impossible to place a number on the amount of lives we help to save through hosting events such as these at Ealing Broadway Station. That is why we keep turning up, even on bitingly cold, dark, wintery days. Perhaps it is on days like these when we’re needed the most.

Spread the love