A charity set up in memory of Burnham-On-Sea teenager Charley Marks is going from strength to strength as it marks its second anniversary with a big fundraising ball on Friday night.
However, the event will be particularly emotional this year because the following day, Saturday April 1st, would have been Charley’s 21st birthday, a painful reminder of why the charity was formed.
In Charley’s Memory was set up after Charley, pictured above, took his own life, aged 18, in September 2014. The charity now supports and helps hundreds of young people and those affected by mental health.
To hear more about the charity’s work, Burnham-On-Sea.com visited Dawn Carey, the charity’s Operations Manager, and Vicky Cooper, its lead counsellor, pictured right, at the group’s base in the town’s Manor House in the Manor Gardens.
Dawn told Burnham-On-Sea.com: “The charity’s first two years have exceeded our expectations – we are widely recognised and many people know Charley’s story and why we are here.”
“We’ve been spreading the message about mental health by visiting many local schools during the last year. The children are always so welcoming and many have even gone on to do fundraising for us and offered to help as volunteers or ambassadors.”
“The service we provide is not simply counselling, we do lots of pro-active work to improve the wellbeing of young people and helping them get a good start in life.”
“We are keen not to be seen as a ‘crisis management’ charity – instead, we help young people in advance of problems and build their self-confidence and self-esteem.”
Free counselling services are provided by the team to around 30 young people a week by the organisation’s qualified, trained team.
The charity has also been arranging a wide range of training, from mental health first aid through to mental health management, identifying problems and communicating with sufferers, to enable its team to achieve recognised qualifications.
Dawn adds: “We see all ages and backgrounds of people with mental health issues – mental health does not discriminate, and a key message for young people is to let them know that they are not alone. The hardest step for anyone suffering from a mental health problem is to speak to someone and not suffer through it alone.”
She says that over the last two years the amount of support the charity has had from the local community and through volunteers and donations has been “amazing” and without it the charity would not have grown so quickly.
The charity is organising an annual ‘Walking into Darkness’ fundraiser on June 24 which encourages people to show their support to families and individuals suffering from mental health problems. The charity’s sell-out ball will be held on Weston Pier this Friday (March 31st) with 180 tickets sold. For more information about the charity, visit incharleysmemory.org.uk
Pictured: Dawn Carey, operations manager, with Vicky Cooper, lead counsellor, at the Burnham charity’s base in the Manor House in the Manor Gardens