Local men are learning to walk tall in high heels for a sponsored walk in aid of the PIPS suicide prevention charity’s new Larne headquarters.
The ‘Walk a Mile in my Shoes’ event will also see local women don firemen’s boots to raise money for the charity’s new town centre headquarters.
Co-ordinator and chairperson of PIPS Larne, Carlee Letson, told The Times: “We had seen American men in white killer heels and I thought, we could do something with this! It’s about walking in the shoes of someone who has a mental illness-it’s not comfortable whether it’s bipolar, schizophrenia, anxiety disorder, any mental illness like anorexia or bulimia. I asked a few men if they would wear high heels and they said they would love to!”
After combing local charity shops, Carlee sourced outsize shoes from Cancer Research and received donations of plus-size heels from Shoe Zone and Primark. She continued: “Larne’s Fire Chief said the guys would be prepared to wear heels as long as the women wear firemen’s boots. The fire engine will accompany us and we will have St John’s Amulance on call-but we hope we won’t have any broken ankles as the guys are all practising!”
The event is being supported by Mayor of Larne Martin Wilson, who Carlee says will get into the spirit of the event: “We are the Mayor’s chosen charity of the year and he has agreed to put on a pair of high heels at the start of the walk but he won’t walk in them.”
Despite the fun, the event has a serious message. Carlee said: “We hope we will raise awareness of suicide. If it saves one life it’s worth it. Last week we had 53 calls to our helpline-normally we have around 20. I got involved with PIPs because when my brother took his own life there was nothing-no community mental health team, no support. Someone told me I should do something about it, so I founded PIPS Larne.”
The voluntary group is preparing to move to new premises at 109A Main Street. The money raised from the sponsored walk will fund decorating work to make the centre more welcoming. Carlee explained: “You don’t want to bring someone who’s in a dark place into a dark place. We’re hoping it will open at the end of September and it will have three counselling rooms, a reception area, office, and a relaxation therapy room. It will make a real difference to our work.”
The charity will hold a white dove and balloon release on September 10, World Suicide Prevention Day, for those who have lost a loved one to suicide. Carlee said: “It’s something special and visible to break the stigma of suicide in the local community. There will be tears, but PIPs group members will be there to help and support people.”
The walk will take place at 2pm on September 6 departing from Broadway, Main Street. The white dove and balloon release is on September 10 at 7.30pm sharp at Broadway. To take part in the sponsored walk or to donate contact Carlee on 07530797716.