Charley Marks

This month marks five years since Burnham-On-Sea teenager Charley Marks tragically took his life – and the formation of a charity that provides mental health support to young people.

The group In Charley’s Memory was set up after Charley, pictured above, took his own life at age 18 in September 2014.

The charity now supports and helps hundreds of young people affected by mental health every year.

Talking to Burnham-On-Sea.com, Charley’s mother Jo said: “This year has been as hard as the previous ones and I still miss him as much as the day I lost him.”

“His death has impacted on us all but we have had to adjust to him not being here but still think about him every minute of everyday. My firstborn son is and will always be at the forefront of my mind.”

“The charity has been rapidly growing in recent months. If you had told me how quick or how far In Charley’s Memory was going to grow I would never have believed it.”

“When Charley died, I did not have a plan other than the urge to raise awareness of Charley’s struggles and hoping that by doing it would help many more young people.”

“Whilst I have always dreamed of having Charley’s Haven,  I have realised that our counselling rooms are a haven for all the young people that come to us for counselling.”

“In the last 18 months the charity has gone from strength to strength, already having to move twice due to expanding, and with many projects now happening across Somerset, this enables people who would struggle to come to Burnham to still access the support they need.”

“One of our great achievements is the links we now have with the schools. The drop-in clinic that we run provides students with a safe place to come and talk to someone instantly, often helping resolve a problem or signpost with out the need for counselling. Sometimes they just need reassurance that it is OK to have a bad day!”

“This year, as part of the Priory Learning Trust, we are able to extend our services to all the schools within the Trust, a fantastic opportunity.”

“As from October, our team will have grown to 17 counsellors at various stages in their careers. In numbers, this mean we can offer over 1,900 hours counselling at the very least. To date this year we have had over 800 counselling hours available, not including the drop-ins and other projects we are starting on.”

“All this is managed because the community and business give us so much support. They believe and understand what it is we are trying to do, more so than ever before with services being cut across the board.”

“It breaks my heart that I had to lose Charley for all of this to happen, but I am so proud of the work that the amazing team at ICM have achieved.”

“We will not stop, we will continue to grow and reach out and support young people and their families when they have nowhere else to go.”

Dawn Carey, ICM’s Operations Manager, adds: “It’s hard to give an exact number on how many we have supported and helped, but since January 2019 it is at least 250 young people with the various services we provide, for some this is 1:1 counselling, for others it is attending weekly drop-ins at local schools, as well as a Hinkley Point programme.”

“The reason we have now moved twice since the charity was founded was a lack of space. As the charity grows we always need more counselling rooms, better parking, more desks in the office.”
”Just when we think we have found our new home, it’s time to move again. But we have been lucky with all our moves, the YMCA and now Hytec in Brue Way, Highbridge have been extremely supportive.”
She adds: “Our role at Hinkley Point is to provide support for the apprentices through drop-ins and counselling. Many of the apprentices are under 25 and have moved away from home.”
”A new job, making new friends and not having your family to support them can be extremely stressful. Having someone there that you can talk to on a bad day really can make all the difference.”
“This is a common theme with all the drop-ins that we run – not everyone needs counselling but letting them know that there is someone there to chat to when needed can be a big help.”
“I do not think anyone expected In Charley’s Memory to be what it is today, so we cannot wait to see what the next 18 months brings.”