‘Support and solace’ focus for outreach

An ‘open door and a listening ear’ was the theme for an outreach event at Whitehead Presbyterian Church over the weekend.

Leave The Lights On’ saw the church made available to all members of the community, providing a 24-hour place of comfort and solace along with information on mental health issues.

The event was an extension of the monthly Leave The Lights On sessions at the venue, which also hosts a lunch club every Friday.

It was organised by Whitehead man Noel McKee, a member of the congregation.

Speaking to the Times on Friday, lunch team volunteer Carolyn Cubitt said: “This is the second year we’ve held something longer over the weekend; the whole reason behind it is to let anyone in need know that someone is here.

“The church and halls will be open, and on Saturday and Sunday there will be information stands and points of contact. It’s a cross-community event so it’s open to anyone at all; we’ve had people from different faiths and none come in.

“This time of year can be a very difficult one for many people for various reasons, so it’s important that they have somewhere to go to give them a little time with their thoughts, to offer support and solace.”

The weekend included a short play by Samaritans on the theme of suicide, a Mood Matters talk from Aware Defeat Depression, and a discussion on drug and alcohol awareness from FASA (Forum for Action on Substance Abuse). Trained counsellors were also on hand throughout the event.

Meanwhile, the church will continue to open the last Sunday in every month from 11am-8pm as a drop in for anyone who needs peace and quiet.