A brave Barry Mum still struggling with the loss of her beloved son is fund raising to set up a Suicide Support Centre in our town.
Rachel Degaetano, who lost her 21 year-old son Chae in April 2015, needs to hit a target of £85,000 to start the facility that she is personally, and painfully, aware is much-needed in Barry.
She has already teamed up with the well-established Jacob Abraham Foundation (JAF) which has a support centre in Cardiff.
The registered charity, soon to be renamed Suicide Support Cymru, was established by Jacob’s mother Nicola after the 24 year- old killed himself in October 2015.
Working together, Rachel hopes to replicate JAF’s work to: help prevent suicide through direct intervention with vulnerable people; raise awareness on mental health and/or suicide issues; promote positive mental health, and support people bereaved through suicide, in Barry and the Vale.
Our town’s community has been rocked and many families torn apart by the recent spate of deaths by suicide.
Rachel said: “In March and April of 2014, I lost two good male friends to suicide, in March 2015 another young lad took his life and my son died in April 2015. Since Chae’s death, another seven young local lads have taken their lives – the latest being Samuel Uphill in January 2018, who like my boy, will be Forever 21.”
That, for me signalled enough. Something has to be done. We need to support our vulnerable young adults. There are not enough resources, they have nowhere to go, they don’t know how to control their feelings, or even what to do with them. It’s time that changed. They need to know it’s ok not to be ok.”
Named Gobaith (Barri), the Campaign was kicked off with a very well-attended Public Meeting at Barry Town Football Club. The community turned up in force to support Rachel’s plans for a ‘safe place.’
Then came the meeting that Rachel says ‘changed her life’ A meeting with Jacob Abraham Foundation founder Nicola, gave her the direction she needed, the experience of how to get there, a charity to work with – and, of course, a bond with another Mum devastated by the loss of a much-loved son.
She said: “Thank you so much to Nicola for her help. Over the next year we intend to fill in numerous grant applications, set up events, hold coffee mornings and pub quizzes, run marathons, climb mountains and jump out of planes. We ask you to sponsor and donate throughout the year. But mostly we ask for your support.
We were too late for our children. Please support us to support the young adults of our community. We intend to do all that we can to help save lives and ensure another family doesn’t have to endure the devastation that losing a loved one to suicide causes. Thank you.”
#itsoknottobeok is all about having the courage to stand up and say ‘enough is enough, the strength to keep fighting for our vital Suicide Support Centre, the swagger to celebrate the successes all along the way, and that faith that our community will make a difference for the young people in our town.
Voice of the Community
FOR THE RECORD: Good Luck to Gobaith and they their fight after joining forcers with CUBE – I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my part in their journey which was very much a cracking chapter in the Mrs SVJ story too.
Feel free to join me as I continue write about the fight to make a real difference with Stand Up To Racism (Vale), LGBTQymru, An Anti-Racist Wales – the Race Equality Action Plan, and my other community activism work.
As always, I live to write another day, find my weekly opinion column in the Glamorgan Star – the Vale’s newest newspaper covering Barry and beyond. Read my take on the latest news in print fortnightly, or online here.
Sue Vincent-Jones, writing as Mrs SVJ, is a Barry born journalist, editor, and communications specialist. She blogs about Barry – and her life in the wider world, through the eyes of a, quirky and queer, local girl done good.
As a community activist Sue was an integral part of the Gobaith Campaign for a much-needed Barry Suicide Support Centre. She was Media Lead, and Communications Advisor for the Group who have now merged with CUBE.