Five years of James' Place Liverpool
Jane Boland, Head of James’ Place Liverpool and our Clinical Lead reflects on the past five years.
Five men were referred to James’ Place in Liverpool today. Five men who recognised they had started think that suicide is the answer to their problems and who took the step to reach out for help, trusting that we can help them find hope and a plan for the future.
We opened our centre in Liverpool five years ago. I was around for the building work, watching the garden being transformed into the beautiful space it is now, planning for our opening event with HRH The Prince of Wales, then Duke of Cambridge, and hoping that we would be able to deliver the service that we were promising.
We promised that men would be welcomed into our centre with kindness and that they would find hope again. We set out to deliver a safe and effective treatment, which would help them to understand how they had got into a suicidal crisis and most importantly, would help them to recover and go on with their lives. We have now helped over 1,250 suicidal men at this centre.
I started my journey in mental health in 1997, when I began my training as an Occupational Therapist. I have worked in acute mental health settings since I qualified and for the latter 12 years of my NHS career worked in crisis and assessment teams. I was the Suicide Prevention Lead for Mersey Care NHS Trust, delivering training and support to staff working in front line services. I saw first-hand the impact of suicide, on the bereaved families and on the teams who had tried to help the person stay alive. I believed that we could do better, but I couldn’t see how that would be delivered in a system which was pretty much stretched to breaking point. When I first met James’ parents Clare and Nick and heard their vision for James’ Place I knew that this was a unique opportunity to design a service that could really make a difference.
I feel extremely proud to have played my part in the development of James’ Place bringing Clare and Nick’s idea to life. I had a clear concept of what the clinical intervention would look like and it is so rewarding to see that in action every day at our centres, saving men’s lives.
I think part of the magic of James’ Place is that we have a very singular mission, we do one thing, and we do it very well. I think as clinicians we are aware that it is a luxury to be given the time and space to deliver a service that would be considered as an exemplar, as best practice. But in a life and death situation why would you be satisfied with anything else?
I live and work in Liverpool; it is a small place really and I rarely venture out into the city without bumping in to someone. Sometimes I bump into someone who has used James’ Place, and I get a hello, a hug, a shy nod of acknowledgement. Last week I got to hold a baby. A baby who maybe would not be here if we hadn’t helped her Dad. It’s moments like that which really bring home the difference James’ Place makes to not only the men we help, but families and the community as a whole.
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