Mathewfest: three-day event in valleys to raise awareness of reaching out for help

To mark World Suicide Prevention Day 2017 this weekend, family and friends of Mathew Harvey have organised a three-day fundraising event to celebrate his life and raise awareness of depression and male suicide. Mathewfest, which will run from Friday to Sunday in Cwmbran and Pontypool, includes a whole host of events including a fun-run, sponsored walk, cycle and music concert, with over 200 people involved. Mathew Harvey, who was a keen and very talented musician, was a much-loved son, father, brother, uncle and friend.

The organisers of the event were close family and friends of Mathew who decided to arrange an event to celebrate his life and increase awareness of the importance of opening up and reaching out for help. They decided to use the event to fundraise for the Samaritans South Wales Valleys project, a Samaritans in Wales project which aims to reduce suicide across the South Wales Valleys.

Susan Francis, Project Officer for Samaritans South Wales Valleys Project said:

“We’re proud to be involved with this fantastic event. Mathewfest is a really positive way of engaging with local communities and raising awareness of the importance of talking and reaching out for help. Our project aims to increase access to our emotional support service and encourage help-seeking behaviour in the Valleys area and this event and celebration is all about those same aims.

“Feeling distressed or suicidal is far more common than many people may think and the important thing is that that we encourage conversation. We know that many people bottle up their problems and try to be strong but there is no shame in asking for help, in fact I would say it’s a strength. The family and friends of Mathew are working really hard to get this message across to the community”

To support Mathewfest, Samaritans are sharing some signs that you or someone you know may be struggling to cope. They say whilst you can’t really generalise how struggling to cope can make you feel or act, there are some symptoms to be aware of for yourself or someone you know.  

  • Lacking energy or feeling tired, feeling restless and agitated
  • Feeling tearful
  • Not wanting to talk to or be with people
  • Not wanting to do things you usually enjoy
  • Using alcohol or drugs to cope with feelings
  • Finding it hard to cope with everyday things

If these signs seem like you or someone you know, Samaritans want to encourage people to reach out to someone or to call them for free, at any time, on 116 123. This number does not show up on phone bills. You can also email them at jo@samaritans.org or visit one of their nine branches in Wales, details of which can be found at www.samaritans.org/branches. For those people who would like to speak to someone in Welsh, they can call the Welsh Language helpline on 0808 164 0123, which is open 7-11pm, 7 days a week. They also want to remind the public that they don’t have to feel suicidal to get in touch. They offer a safe place for you to talk any time you like, in your own way – about whatever’s getting to you.

Craig Jenkins, best friend of Mathew said -  

“For me, this event needed to take part for 2 main reasons.  Firstly, to celebrate the life and memory of Mathew and secondly to raise the awareness of depression and male suicide. There is simply not enough done to tackle this awful disease.  This is one of the reasons why we chose Samaritans in Wales as our charity because of the amazing support they provide for anyone going through a difficult time in their life. You would never think Mathew was going through what he was going through and I can only hope that following Mathewfest, even if we make one person pick up the phone and call Samaritans, then we have made a difference.”

“I really do believe this from the bottom of my heart that Mathew would have wanted this event to go ahead. Mathew was a beautiful person who is missed and loved by so many people and I am so proud and thankful to everyone taking part to celebrate Mathew's memory and to help raise awareness of the importance of reaching out for help”

To find out more about Mathewfest, or to donate, please visit www.justgiving.com/teams/MathewFest

ENDS

or further information, or to request an interview, please contact Emma Harris, Policy and Communications Officer on e.harris@samaritans.org or 07984579050 / 029 2022 2008

Note to Editors:

  • Samaritans is available round the clock, every single day of the year, to listen and offer confidential support when things are getting to you. Please call 116 123 (this number is FREE and will not show up on your phone bill) or call the Welsh Language Line on 0808 164 0123 (This number is free to call and open from 7pm - 11pm 7 days a week) You can also email jo@samaritans.org, or visit www.samaritans.org/branches to find details of the nearest branch.