Stratford-upon-Avon to be UK’s first ‘listening town’

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Mayor of Stratford, Cllr Victoria Alcock, centre, pictured at Stratford Hospital on Monday with Samaritans’ outreach team volunteers Linda Brazendale and Kath Fraser. Photo: Mark Williamson (H7/2/18/3826A)

A BID to make Stratford-upon-Avon the UK’s first ‘listening town’ has been launched.

Town mayor, Cllr Victoria Alcock, joined the Samaritans’ volunteers at Stratford Hospital to launch the campaign.

The Listening Town Campaign is sharing the Samaritans’ five listening tips — known as SHUSH — with people in businesses, charities, local agencies, shops, supermarkets, schools and theatres across the town.

As partners in the Warwickshire Suicide Prevention Strategy, launched in November 2016, the charity’s volunteers want to reach as many people with the message that we can all make a difference and reduce the impact of death by suicide.

They want to get the message out that it’s OK to say you’re not OK. The launch coincides with Samaritans’ newest outreach activity, a drop-in at the newly-opened Stratford Hospital.

The charity has been working at Warwick Hospital for more than 20 years. It will now also be at Cafe Lomas, the Health and Wellbeing Hub, every Monday from 10am to 1pm.

The Listening Town Campaign is funded by a grant from Stratford Town Trust, which will recruit and train more volunteers so that the charity can build a larger outreach team able to respond to the growing demand for talks and workshops in schools, workplaces, charities, local agencies and the wider community.

It will then promote the SHUSH listening tips, to people of all ages and abilities, from primary schools to residential care settings to create a community of ‘good listeners’.

Ali Berkley, Stratford Samaritans branch’s deputy director for outreach, said: “The campaign is about encouraging us all to listen to the really important things our friends, family and colleagues need to tell us.

“We can all become better listeners with our SHUSH listening tips and make Stratford a #ListeningTown.”

To get involved in the project, follow @ListeningTown on Twitter and Instagram, or e-mail manager@tylerhousehub.org.uk