In 2016, three parents who had all lost their teenage sons to suicide, vowed to do all they could to prevent other families suffering similar tragedies. And so The OLLIE Foundation was born.
Where did we come from?
Where it began: Three parents who experienced unimaginable loss after losing their sons all found their way to their local SOBS, a support network for surviving the bereavement of suicide. Stuart met Chris and Jane at SOBS in June 2015. Throughout the summer and autumn of 2015, they found support at SOBS, but by the end of the year they began to feel like they wanted to do more. Chris, Stuart and Jane started to discuss the idea of charitable fundraising. Initially, the idea was to hold a Golf Day to raise money for PAPYRUS. The funds would be used to facilitate the delivery of safeTALK and ASIST training in the local secondary schools in St Albans.
A parent of one of Morgan’s friends pointed out that she did not play golf so requested an additional event be organised. It was this that kick-started the planning of a number of other events alongside the Golf Day, one of the first being a pub quiz held in Sarratt.
The first Morgan Falconer Memorial Golf Day was held on 13th May 2016, three days before The OLLIE Foundation became a registered charity. In the summer of 2016 the first safeTALK and ASIST training was delivered by Terry Rigby of Forward For Life, and Caron Thompson of Common Unity, on behalf of OLLIE. By October 2016 OLLIE had its own trainers and the first OLLIE run sessions were delivered.
Where are we now?
Since we launched in 2016, The OLLIE Foundation has gone from strength to strength. We have now trained over 650 which means the world has an additional 650 people whose radar is more finely tuned to those around them who may be vulnerable to suicidal ideation. It also means 650 people are more confident to respond appropriately to suicidal thinking and provide support, comfort, signpost or engage the relevant services needed.
The charity is incredibly grateful to the ever-growing network of individuals, companies and funders who support our aims and, or, fundraise on our behalf. Their generosity means we have been able to deliver more training to more people as well as develop specific projects such as the Hemel Schools Suicide Prevention Training Programme, The Sibling Support Programme and our first fully funded open training. We have also been able to expand the range of training available and now offer Mental Health First Aid and goal setting workshops, all of which complement our original suicide prevention offer.
We have been working hard with local independent business and are very proud of the OLLIE OFFERS scheme which enables the public to support OLLIE and access special offers and discounts from local businesses, who in turn may gain new customers and benefit from their custom. You can find out more about this win-win scheme here.
Our continued growth has meant we have been able to expand our dedicated workforce. Last year we welcomed Amy Clements to the team. Amy works alongside our Operations Manager, Verity Bramwell as well as the Trustees and trainers. In October 2018 we were delighted to appoint Debi Roberts MA Ed as our CEO. Debi’s strong vision for OLLIE and expertise in mental health and wellbeing is exactly what we needed and will ensure OLLIE continues to offer relevant training and support to the community as well as achieve its ambitious goals. Learn more about Our Team.
In addition to a full calendar of training and fundraising, our focus during 2019 will be the launch of OLLIE Kent, The Sibling Support Network and a campaign to support blokes notice changes in their mates, family members and work colleagues and feel more confident to talk about their feelings by training their barbers, tattooists and personal trainers in suicide prevention, mental health and goals setting
You can learn more about our plans below.
The OLLIE Foundation works with the NHS, Public Health Herts and Hertfordshire Constabulary to train front line staff as well as Teachers, Youth Workers, parents and older teens across the County. We are very proud to be recognised at one of Hertfordshire’s leading suicide prevention charities.
What Next for The OLLIE Foundation?
Whilst we have already come so far, there is so much more we would like to achieve. Through continued support, funding and donations we are adding to the current training we offer, adding Mental Health First Aid Youth and goal setting workshops. We will also be designing our own bespoke OLLIE Foundation Training.
Although we hear demands for physical and mental health to be put on equal footing, sadly very few health and educational training courses are able to provide adequate training in wellbeing, mental illness or suicide prevention. This is despite the fact that teachers, medics, nurses and the emergency services are the very people who will be seeing some of our most vulnerable members of society on a weekly if not daily basis. So, what can OLLIE do to impact this situation? We are working towards sustainable funding streams that will allow us to provide FREE training to front line staff working in both of Hertfordshire’s A&E Departments as well as emergency services workers, GPs, secondary & higher education staff and youth workers. We will also aim to provide excellent concession rates for other groups and professionals that work with children and young people.
We are excited to launch The OLLIE Foundation in Kent and look forward to growing and working with our new team over there. This of course paves the way for other local branches to set up and as opportunities present themselves, we will look to launch in other areas and support more communities.
OLLIE works with young people directly and indirectly and going forward will look to develop a Youth Board to advise and inform our work. In addition, over the course of 2019, we will be setting up a dynamic volunteer committee who are able to support our long-term goals and carry out some of the day to day business. Not only will this make us more effective but allow us to direct more funds to training, were they are needed.
We wish The OLLIE Foundation was not needed but it is and everyone here is driven by their passion to make a difference and excited to get the job done.