Acknowledging 20 Years of PIPS Hope and Support
In September 2023, PIPS Hope & Support reached a huge milestone the charity and its supporters came together to acknowledge its 20th Anniversary Gala Ball in the Canal Court Hotel.
Speaking about the event, PIPS Hope & Support CEO Seamus McCabe said:
To reach 20 years is a fantastic achievement that had to be acknowledged with all those who have been there on PIPS Hope & Support`s journey. We are very proud to be able to provide support to over 600 people a year and we want to continue to do this for a very long time, on average 15,000 people have benefitted from the support of PIPS Hope & Support over the past 20 years.
At the Gala event Seamus`s speech give a detailed brief of the PIPS Hope & Support journey”
“Tonight is indeed an auspicious night for PIPS Hope and Support, acknowledging its 20th year anniversary, but it does hold a bittersweetness for me as the charity came about following the tragic death of my son Seamus by suicide.
“However, it now remains Seamas’ legacy, a purposeful and meaningful legacy, which is to help support anyone in mental health crisis, suicidal, or like my own family, bereaved through suicide. We also aim to educate communities on many issues relating to mental health and suicide prevention.
“I am heartened and proud when I see what our charity PIPS Hope and Support has become today. Two decades ago, following my son’s death, I had a vision of a purpose-built community service brought into being by an inkling, a hope, and perhaps a knowing that that something more was possible, that a purpose to protect our communities from suicide was worth working towards, committing to, and fighting for.
“Most of you know the story of PIPS Hope and Support, of where and how it all first began. I repeat part of here for those who don’t know about it because it speaks to the gratitude that is owed to the people that built the organisation, which is built on compassion, kindness, and hope.
“My first born and eldest son Seamas tragically died on the 29th of April, 2003, by suicide, something that came out of the blue and something my family never even gave consideration to. But we now know that it is something that can happen to any family. The knowledge that something like this could happen compelled me to search and research suicide to try and identify why, something many of you here tonight would have experienced.
“The tragic situation of Seamas’s death left me with a range of emotions; grief, trauma, disbelief, guilt, all of which left me with a huge challenge. Here I was wanting to make positive changes to help prevent more deaths occurring, but I had no start-up funding and no known network of people that I knew that had lost someone to suicide.
“But what I did have was a very understanding and encouraging wife, Rita, and family, who supported me in my thinking, and eventually helped put the wheels of motion in place. My wife put an ad in the Newry Reporter inviting suicide bereaved families to a meeting in Dromantine College.
“At the very first meeting, we were surprised to see over 20 family members turn up. That was the beginning of what is now PIPS Hope and Support. The charity’s founding committee members were my wife Rita, Marie Leanord, Fr Furey, Laurence and Philomena Guiney, and myself.
“So how did we do it? It’s a great story. Too long to tell in detail though! But it explains and puts in context why I am so appreciative to people who helped the charity along the way and why everyone here should be as well.
“The short if it is, it was done with a nexus of supporters over the years, which consisted of volunteers, committee members, trustees, staff members, funders, partners, stakeholders, sponsors, donators and fundraisers, and the many friends and acquaintances I have made along the way.
“Unfortunately it would be too time-consuming to mention all the people that I need to give thanks to over the years, but I do want to give a shout-out to a few of them; all the fundraisers that tirelessly worked to raise money for the charity over the years, which I must say consists of many, but a special word of thanks to Sean and Brian Farrell who have tirelessly fundraised for the charity every Christmas Eve in all weathers, organising a team of volunteers for the street collection, raising over £63,000.
Oliver Dinsmore, (ODM Facilities Management) A local businessman who has equipped, refurbished and helped renovate the charity’s most recent out-of-hours, evening and weekend WELL Bean (crisis) Café. We wouldn’t be able to do much of our work without supporters like these.
“Our many funders, but particularly the Public Health Agency and the Department of Health. Again, many thanks to all community, statutory and voluntary stakeholders and partners. But this evening a special word of thanks to Action Mental Health who we have partnered to deliver the Protect Life Resource services for over 10 years.
“Due to the support of all these people and many more, PIPS Hope and Support has been able to accomplish the following and are the reason why we thank you for your continued support. We have been able to create an indigenous, homegrown, grassroots, non-profit organisation that has helped save lives and has helped many thousands of people in crisis over the years.
“We do this by providing a range of free, professional counselling and therapies to anyone presented as in crisis or suicidal. We have educated and trained many thousands of people in our local community including professionals working on the frontline with a range of mental health and suicide prevention training and education workshops.
“The charity’s impact is substantial and is well documented. Since 2020, we have shown more growth and service delivery by opening new premises in Lurgan and replicating services we deliver in Newry, South Armagh and South Down areas.
“The most recent project – the Well-Bean crisis Café, which is the first of its kind in Northern Ireland – is an out-of-hours evening and weekend crisis café based in River Street in Newry and is available for any adult that is experiencing mental or emotional distress or suicidal ideation. It is manned by fully-trained professional counsellors offering a range of counselling.
“As a sustainable model for the out-of-hours crisis service, we will soon be opening the Well-Bean café as social enterprise and we would love to see you visit it for a coffee or light refreshment.
“We have created a social media platform with thousands of followers on Twitter and Facebook and we have been accredited by ISO 9001 and Investors in People for over eight years. We are strategic members of many regional and local groups working towards mental and emotional well-being and suicide prevention such as the regional Protect Life 2, regional Towards Zero Suicide, the regional Suicide Prevention Care Pathway and the regional Acute Care Pathway and many more.
“We currently have an incredible group of Trustees who make up our leadership team and I would also like to pay homage to all the previous committee and Board members over the years who have helped shape the charity.
“We have an incredible number of professional staff on all three sites, and we employ 22 staff members, all working effectively for the benefit of the local community. So, thanks to everyone over the past 20 years, PIPS Hope and Support looks to be in a good place.
“In conclusion PIPS Hope & Support is here to work in partnership with individuals, businesses, statutory and the public sector organisations all to help ensure a safer and better resourced community where help is available when it is needed
“To finish off, thank you to all of you and to the countless others who have helped PIPS Hope and Support through the years. Thank you.”
The 20th Anniversary Gala Ball took place at the Canal Court Hotel & Spa. The function room was filled with an overwhelming show of support, and we are truly grateful for everyone's generosity as we continue to provide our vital services to the community.