Mental health service in memory of friend

Two Banbury men are honouring the memory of a close friend who took his own life by setting up a mental health awareness hub to enable people to receive the care and advice they need.

Rico Sangha and Simeon Baker will officially launch Speak Up at an open day event at Banbury United Football Club on Sunday, August 18 and are inviting anyone interested in the project to drop in.

Simeon Baker and Rico Sangha founders of Speak Up NNL-190608-120952001

Simeon Baker and Rico Sangha founders of Speak Up NNL-190608-120952001

The duo are not mental healthcare professionals so are urging therapists, councillors and other specialists to come together in order that Speak Up will be a one stop shop for people seeking help and advice.

Rico said: “It’s been something we’ve thought about for a long time. Our friend committed suicide and it was a big wake up call because there is nothing in place for people with mental health, depression, addictions, as a platform locally, so we decided to do something.

“We are going to start with an open day and Banbury United have happily said they will facilitate, they’ll be a barbecue. The open day will trigger a lot of things, it’s all very well knowing what we want to get out of it but people can come in and explain what they want to get out of it.”

The football club have also agreed to let the group hold regular meetings there which will be on Sundays every other week with dates to be announced after the open day.

Speak Up has already gained a following on social media underlining the duos belief that Banbury is in need of such a service.

Rico said: “It all started with a Facebook group and it just took off, 2,000 people liked it instantly and people were messaging us who need support and need help.”

Speak Up will act as a conduit linking the people who require help with those best able to provide it and its success will rely on the community coming together and working as one.

“We’ve got people who are experienced that will talk to people. We’re just building the platform to get the right people to talk,” said Rico

The duo hope that Speak Up will offer a wide spectrum of services from regular social events to combat loneliness to specialised one on one counselling.

Rico said: “We’re going to offer group sessions, we’ll do activity days and football days, we will have memorial football match every year for our friend, there’s a lot of things going on.”

Simeon added: “We’re going to get people in to do talks, guest speakers to talk about mental health. We want to make it accessible to everyone.

“We want something that is consistent where people can turn up and be around people and know you are not alone. That’s what we’re trying to achieve.”

The open day will be all day on Sunday, August 18. You can follow the group on their Facebook page: www.facebook com/pg/speakupox