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From a speech made by Christine Rocks at the 'Time to Listen: Time to Act' campaign launch in March 2014
"We are not asking them to involve us, we are telling them this is our basic right"
Hello my name is Christine Rocks, I founded SAM88 in 2012. I lost my daughter Samantha to suicide in 2006. Whenever I needed help then I couldn’t find any, and it was only by accident that I came upon Niamh Louise where I did get support and then became a volunteer. But I wanted to bring something to my area in South Derry and that’s why I set up the group. We meet every week in Cookstsown and we are looking for somewhere to meet in Magherafelt. We are there to listen and to give hope so people know they are not alone. It is about providing families with hope after suicide.
I wanted to get involved with the campaign because I knew from my own experience that I wasn’t listened to and I don’t think that has changed from speaking to other people. That needs to change now.
We had focus groups, we did surveys and we got the evidence. I also went to the PPR Summer School and learnt about what rights we have. The one thing I took away from the Summer School was if we want things to change we have to get up and do it ourselves. I believe people with mental health issues and their families should have a voice and should be listened to. When I was trying to get help for Samantha I was told I was too emotionally involved – of course I was - I was trying to protect the life of my child. I felt silenced.
We found out only 3% of people feel involved in the decisions made about mental health services. I feel disgusted that nothing has improved in 8 years since the death of my daughter Samantha. We decided this percentage needs to turn around. In a years time we want to see that change to at least 73% of people feeling involved. People need a voice.
We know what the problems are and we know what the solutions are. I didn’t feel listened to and I felt like a nobody. I thought at the time it was just me but now I’ve come to realise they treat everyone this way. I’ve also come to realise that just because their policy says something, that doesn’t mean it right. Just because they think something is right, it doesn’t mean it’s right for us. And policies can be changed, and we can make that change happen.
We are not asking for them to involve us, we are telling them that this is our basic right and as it says in the title of our research – it’s time to listen and it’s time to act.