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Government suicide prevention fund for charity sector to be boosted

  • Government calls on charities across England to apply for funding to continue supporting tens of thousands of people experiencing suicidal thoughts
  • Comes alongside expected £13.6 billion this year to transform the country’s mental health services so millions of people can quickly access NHS support

Tens of thousands of people experiencing suicidal thoughts or approaching a mental health crisis will receive vital support, as the government relaunches a £10 million fund so charities can work with the NHS to provide life-saving suicide prevention services.

Charities in communities across England can now apply for the latest round of funding from the Suicide Prevention Grant Fund which will ensure as many people as possible can access the support and prevention services they need, when they need it. Funding will also help prevent people reaching crisis point and reduce future demand for these services across both the charity sector and the NHS.

A previous fund of £5.4 million in 2021-22 supported over 100 organisations within the voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) sector. The results of the fund were overwhelmingly positive, with virtually every single successful bidder saying it helped meet increased demand after the pandemic, improved access to services for people in need, and helped identify those experiencing suicidal thoughts quicker.

Previous grant recipients included:

  • James’ Place Charity which used £283,968 to provide innovative and free suicide prevention therapy to men over the age of 18 in Merseyside and London
  • The Caribbean and African Health Network in Manchester which was awarded £41,599 for work to tackle taboos around suicide in Black communities
  • Papyrus which was awarded £151,815 to provide confidential support and advice specifically to young people and anyone worried about a young person through their HOPELINE247

The funding comes alongside a projected £13.6 billion investment by the NHS this year to continue to provide, expand and transform mental health services in England including NHS talking therapies, children and young people’s mental health services and eating disorder services.

Health and Social Care Secretary Steve Barclay said:

Too many lives are sadly lost to suicide and my sympathy goes out to those affected by its truly devastating impacts.

We’re already urgently investing record sums of money to transform and expand NHS mental health services, but the voluntary suicide prevention sector is such an important part of the support on offer and this multi-million pound fund recognises the work it carries out alongside the NHS.

I encourage charities to apply for this funding so they can continue to save lives, tackle taboos, and make a real difference to so many people.

PAPYRUS Prevention of Young Suicide chief executive Ged Flynn said:

Funding is vital if we are to continue giving hope to children and young people who are struggling with life, and we welcome the government’s contribution which will go some way to help.

The services we offer are underpinned by voluntary income; kind donations, fundraising and public support. That generosity funds our confidential HOPELINE247 service which allows our professional suicide prevention advisers to keep young people safe.

We also rely on voluntary income to help us engage with local communities on suicide prevention initiatives across the UK, offer training to groups and individual and support a network of volunteers who have lived experience of suicide.

Suicide is sadly the biggest cause of death in both men and women under the age of 35 in the UK, and there has been a noticeable increase in the last decade in the number of tragic suicides among women under the age of 25.

NHS crisis lines receive 200,000 calls per month and the Samaritans report receiving over 10,000 calls per day on average.

This latest round of government funding, however, could be used by the VCSE sector to boost capacity in crisis helplines – both for those struggling and for those who are concerned about a loved one – provide signposting to services, launch campaigns targeted at specific at-risk groups like young men, and also support families who have experienced the tragedy of losing a loved one by suicide.

Minister for Mental Health Maria Caulfield said:

Every single suicide is a tragedy – one which still affects too many people in England. Heartbreakingly, it is still the biggest killer of men under 35.

But we’re taking action. This £10 million fund for the voluntary and charity sector will help people nationwide receive crucial mental health support and builds on the success of previous funds, which supported tens of thousands of people approaching a crisis.

We’re already investing £57 million into suicide prevention schemes through the NHS Long-Term Plan, and all local areas now have suicide prevention plans to address the specific needs of their populations.

While this funding will help fund a range of preventative and innovative activity up and down the country, the government is committed to doing all it can to prevent deaths by suicide. Later this year, it will publish a new National Suicide Prevention Strategy that will set out further actions and commitments to deliver this.

Professor Sir Louis Appleby National Advisor on the Suicide Prevention Strategy said:

Charities play a critical role in preventing suicide and today’s launch of the grant fund will support their vital work. Given the pressures facing the sector, I hope all eligible organisations will consider bidding for funding.

The government is investing at least £2.3 billion of additional funding a year by March 2024 to expand and transform NHS mental health services, so an extra two million people can get the mental health support they need.

Over £400 million is also going into improving mental health facilities, including by giving patients the privacy of their own bedroom and eradicating shared dorms.

The mental health workforce is also growing. In December 2022, we saw almost 9,000 more mental health staff working than the previous year. The NHS Long Term Workforce plan sets out ambitions to grow the mental health workforce further.

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