Night walk to raise awareness of mental health care following death of Leighton Buzzard teen

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A group of friends, ex-members of staff and colleagues are taking to the streets of Leighton Buzzard for a night time walk to raise awareness of mental health care.

Organiser Naomi Woodford works in the student support centre at Cedars Upper School, Leighton Buzzard and has seen first hand the impact mental health issues can have on youngsters.

Among the 23 walkers will be Mum, sister and eight friends of ex-Cedars student Amelia who died by suicide last year after suffering from anxiety and depression, compounded by ADHD.

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Naomi said: “Alongside my colleague and friend Carrie Barden-Marshall, we support students with their mental health and emotional wellbeing. Sadly, the Cedars and Leighton Buzzard community have been affected deeply in recent years with the loss of young people who have taken their lives.

Some of the team that will be taking part in the walk. Picture supplied by Naomi WoodfordSome of the team that will be taking part in the walk. Picture supplied by Naomi Woodford
Some of the team that will be taking part in the walk. Picture supplied by Naomi Woodford

“Last year, I did a skydive in aid of the 'Mental Health Foundation' and not wanting to repeat that experience again I thought about what else I could do for my next fundraiser. Supporting CALM seemed like a 'no-brainer' so I came up with a walk - trying to make it inclusive to all Cedars staff initially.”

In a moving statement, Amelia’s parents Becci and Mark Butlin said: “As a family we are devastated and we have also seen the huge impact this has had on Amelia’s friendship group and the wider community. One suicide impacts at least 125 people but most probably, this is many more.

"We are now even more aware of the challenges young people face every day and how this is exacerbated in a world that demands constant contact through phones and social media giving little opportunity for mental rest.”

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"For Amelia, living in this world as an adult simply overwhelmed her. Amelia attended Cedars Upper School and had very happy school years. We are supporting this walk for CALM with many of Amelia’s friends to support driving awareness of the most devastating outcome of mental health struggles and to support a charity that does amazing work to prevent suicide.”

AmeliaAmelia
Amelia

Naomi has worked at the Cedars school for more than 11 years and for the past six has worked in the student support centre offering mental health and emotional support.

''The range and amount of mental health issues has definitely increased over the past few years, especially during and after the pandemic ended. The consequences of this is proving to have a long lasted effect, putting a strain on numerous mental health provisions,” she said.

The 15 km walk sets off and ends at the Cedars on June 29th, starting at 8.30pm. Naomi has set a fundraising target of £1,500 for the charity CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably) but says she is hoping to exceed that figure.

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Naomi believes the feelings of isolation at night can add to the poignancy of the fundraiser.

She said: “Walking at night not only adds to the challenge but I think it adds to the depth of the walk - why we are doing this. Night time hours can be the most isolating times and hours of the day, a time where people in crisis or who just want a chat, need connection. I think seeing in a new day is such a positive representation of a night time walk. I'd like to also use this time to 'walk and talk.’'

You can donate to Naomi’s fundraiser at Just Giving.

If you are struggling, or know someone who is, visit https://www.thecalmzone.net/ – or call its free helpline, which is open from 5pm until midnight, on 0800 585858, use the livechat on the website, or send a whatsapp message.

You can also contact Samaritans – day or night, 365 days a year – for free on 116 123 or email them at [email protected]

Other useful numbers include: MIND 0300 1233393, Anxiety UK: 03444 775774, Rethink Mental Illness: 0300 5000927, YoungMinds: 0800 802 5544; and Papyrus: 08000684141.

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