Councillor’s Cycle of Awareness

Cllr Liam Brazil has once again presented the funds from his successful Mental Health and Suicide Awareness Cycle to the Suicide or Survive (SOS) charity which is providing important services in Waterford.
A COUNTY Waterford charity cycle has been praised for generating significant funds for a mental health and suicide awareness charity. The 50k Mental Health and Suicide Awareness Cycle, which is organised by local Fine Gael Councillor Liam Brazil, takes place on Easter Sunday each year and has become a popular annual fixture. The route, which begins and finishes at Crotty’s Inn, Leamybrien, encompasses scenic areas of Mid County Waterford including the Copper Coast.

A 30k route is also available for participants each year. Cllr Brazil, who is a passionate promoter of positive mental health and suicide awareness, is thrilled that the cycle was such a success once again this year.
Since the event’s inception, more than €30,000 has been raised for the Suicide or Survive (SOS) charity.
Over 300 people participated in the 2018 event which raised a hugely impressive €8,000.
Last week, the charity’s founder and CEO Caroline McGuigan visited Waterford and accepted a cheque from Cllr Brazil. She explained that the funds will help enable the continued delivery of SOS services here in Waterford.
SOS events, which are staged at The Park Hotel in Dungarvan, have proven hugely successful and beneficial in the past.

The SOS Wellness Workshop is a one day workshop aimed at helping people to take charge of their own mental health.It allows participants to take time out and learn a wide range of practical tools and tips which they can use in their everyday life to improve their own wellness.The workshops are delivered in an informal and relaxed setting and are facilitated by people with experience of mental health difficulties and people with experience of working in various mental health arenas.“The workshop is a really practical one day investment in your mental health which is delivered in a way that’s jargon free,” explained Caroline.

Meanwhile, the Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP) is a two and a half day programme held over a three week period which helps participants to develop their own personally tailored Wellness Action Plan which can be used on a day-to-day basis to manage their wellness. Caroline is encouraging all those who support Cllr Brazil’s cycle to avail of the programmes in order to experience the benefits themselves.“They are for everybody and people will be pleasantly surprised by them,” she said. On November 8th a one day Wellness Workshop catering for around 50 people will take place in The Park Hotel, Dungarvan, with the Wellness Recovery Action Plan taking place in the same venue on November 17th and 24th and December 1st.

Caroline says there is fantastic feedback to all of the services which are offered by SOS.
She takes pride in adopting a hands-on approach and uses her own personal experience of mental health issue to help others, emphasising that she doesn’t want to lead the organisation from an “ivory tower”.
“We don’t claim to know what’s best for everybody. We take the approach that people have the tools within themselves – they just need to add to those tools and build awareness,” she explained.
Reflecting on the success of the charity cycle, Cllr Brazil thanked everyone who participates in the event and lends assistance year. “There are so many people that make the day happen each year,” he said.
“The cycle will continue as long as people support it. It’s all about creating awareness around County Waterford about mental health and suicide and spreading the message that people can get help.”

Val Duffy of SOS has participated in the cycle and said she was “absolutely blown away by the spirit and camaraderie” on display as well as the warm welcome. “Liam made it look effortless,” she said.
The event is made possible thanks to the support of many people within Cllr Brazil’s local community as well as his family and friends. His wife Marie has been instrumental in assisting to organise and stage the cycle each year. She says the event is a fantastic display of community spirit.“We have a brilliant team that come on board on the day,” she explained.“Locals bake for us and businesses provide sponsorship. Many volunteers come out and stand at crossroads, no questions asked.” She says the event also showcases the importance of meeting people and socialising face to face instead of staying indoors and online. This is something which Caroline McGuigan wholeheartedly agrees with. “Social media has a place, but as human beings we need that human connection,” she said. “The SOS workshops are phenomenal, but do not underestimate the impact of 300 people coming together on Easter Sunday. That gathering is just as powerful and is something which is very precious.

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