Everyone deserves to have hope

Today we hear from Hannah, one of our Hope Project support workers based in Bristol, who blogs about the work they do with men struggling with suicidal thoughts.

I have been working for the Hope Project for the last two years as a support worker. Throughout my time with this project I have had the pleasure of working with many different men from the Bristol area, all who have accessed Hope due to their mental health difficulties, specifically suicidal thoughts and/or those who are intending to act on these thoughts or who have acted of them.

Alongside this we also support them in tackling their practical issues. These have been things such as benefit applications, attending appointments with medical professionals, homelessness and other housing difficulties, accessing counselling, struggles with addiction, relationship complexities and other things that are impacting them on a daily basis.

Throughout the last two years I have had the privilege of meeting many men who have come to the Hope project because they have been faced with a complex array of things that have left many of them feeling overwhelmed, not knowing where to go to ask for support. I work with each client on a one-to-one basis, offering them six to eight sessions, where we focus on all of their needs, in the hope that we can work together to begin to make important changes that positively impact their lives.

Man up

It has become more and more apparent to me that these men believe that there is no place for them to be open with their thoughts and feelings, fearing rejection, loss of friendships and ridicule. Many of the men I have supported have used same phrases: ‘Man up’, ‘Men don’t cry’, ‘Men do not show weakness.’

Yet, what they come to realise, is everyone feels emotion, everyone experiences things that can lead us to struggle with our mental health and that we are not weak because of this, we are strong for finding a way to talk about it and to ask for help. 

I have been moved by the words of my clients, who have trusted me enough to openly share the impact that Hope has had on their lives. I have also been continuously astounded by these men and how it can take just one person, who offers them the support they need that then enables them to believe that there is the possibility for change and with that, comes hope.

The relief of sharing

So many of my clients have told me that, before they received support, they truly believed that there was no possibility of positive change, that they felt broken-down, disillusioned and fearful that there was never going to be any happiness in their lives. However, through opening up to me and finally sharing some of the thoughts that they have been internalising for many years, sometimes a lifetime, they feel instant relief, knowing that they are not alone but also that they are not being judged for being in the place that they are in.

It is both moving and rewarding to see these men regain their self-belief which allows them to make the steps they need for change to take place, such as asking for help with their addictions, securing housing, securing some financial stability, re-establishing relationships with their families and beginning to attend therapy.

I have become more and more aware of how vital it is that every person has their basic needs met in a way that allows them to feel cared for and seen. We all have a need for a place to call home, regular meals and to genuine safety. A client I have been supporting over the last few months, reflected on his experience of working with the project  and said that finally having these things has given him hope and has stopped him dreading tomorrow and allowed him to be excited about his future. Everyone deserves to have hope.

The Hope Project works with men aged between 30 and 64 in Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire.

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