Samaritans Scotland team up with Breathing Space for 600 mile cycle ride

Andrew Sim, Samaritans' Executive Director for Scotland has teamed up with Breathing Space National Coordinator Tony McLaren to turn the spotlight on the support available to Scots who are feeling down. Cycling 600 miles around Scotland in 7 days, Andrew and Tony are visiting as many Samaritans branches and mental health support centres as they can between 10-16th May.
 
As well as promoting the work of both Samaritans and Breathing Space, the bike ride aims to highlight the benefits of physical activity on mental wellbeing. Tony and Andrew’s ride takes place during Mental Health Awareness Week (12th-18th May), which has anxiety as its theme this year. 
 
Michael Matheson, Scottish Government Minister for Public Health said: “People living in Scotland benefit greatly from having emotional support helplines available, and I am delighted to see Samaritans and Breathing Space working so closely to raise awareness about mental health, which is such an important issue for all of us, and a real priority for the Scottish Government.”
 
Andrew Sim, Samaritans’ Executive Director for Scotland said: "Our service has been delivered exclusively by volunteers for sixty years and we take around 300,000 calls a year in Scotland. We are here, every single day of the year, to listen and help people find the best way forward for them. During this ride we want to highlight that help is available for people, whatever they are going through". 
 
Tony McLaren, Breathing Space/ Living Life National Coordinator added: "The simple message we hope to take across Scotland through this cycle is that mental health is everyone’s business. We can all take steps to help improve our mental wellbeing, whether that's through exercise or perhaps by talking things through and being more open about how we are feeling."
 
The cycle ride across Scotland is supported by CrossCountry Trains and by Network Rail, which has been working in partnership with both Samaritans and Breathing Space to reduce suicide on the railways and to support people in distress, including railway staff.
 
David Dickson, Network Rail’s route managing director for Scotland said: 
 “We take suicide prevention extremely seriously and our aim is to save families, passengers and colleagues from the trauma of being involved in or witnessing an incident on our railways. Through our successful partnership we are able to provide our people with additional training and materials to recognise mental ill health or suicidal behaviour and intervene with confidence.” 
 
Commenting on the cycle ride, Isabella Goldie, Head of the Mental Health Foundation in Scotland said: “In our recent survey for Mental Health Awareness Week almost one in five people told us they feel anxious all of the time or a lot of the time and that talking to someone was an important way to cope with this, so it has never been more vital to have services such as Breathing Space and Samaritans to provide lifelines to people when they are often at their lowest point. Both services play unique and complementary roles, which are valued by thousands of callers each year in Scotland.”
 
Siobhan McMahon MSP for Central Scotland put forward a motion in the Scottish Parliament to commend the partnership approach to raising awareness of support services in Scotland, which has received cross party support. 
 
You can follow Tony and Andrew’s journey on Twitter via @MHCycleforScot and the hashtag #MHACycleforScot