Thousands sign Burnley motorway bridge petition in bid to support potential suicide victims

A rallying call for the people of Burnley to show support for one another has gone out from a compassionate young woman who has overcome her own mental health problems.

Megan Greenwood is staging a get together in the town in a bid to help people who are struggling with their mental health, anxiety and depression.

It will take place at Gannow Top bridge, where, in recent weeks, police have been called on a number of occasions to assist vulnerable people. Two petitions, which have been signed by almost 3,000 people, have also been launched, calling for the bridge to be made safer.

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Megan (24) said: "I just couldn't sit back and not do something to address this issue.

Megan Greenwood has organised a gathering in Burnley to encourage people to support those who may be struggling with their mental health

"I think we are all aware of how bad people’s mental health has got, especially during lockdown.

"Too many people are now in the position where they feel like taking their own life is their only option and unfortunately they have gone to Gannow Top bridge to do this.

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"Burnley is my hometown and a very closeknit place so I know that we can come together to make a difference and reach out to help those around us who are feeling so down.

"Let's look after each other and show those suffering they aren't alone and there is someone out there, even a stranger,who will listen to them and try and offer some support."

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Mental health awareness campaigner Jordan Taylor took his battle for more support to Number 10 Downing Street in 2018

Suffering with her own mental health in the past Megan, who is a former student at Shuttleworth College in Padiham, said she was lucky to have a strong support network of family and friends to help her cope.

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She added: "Some people are not lucky enough to have that and with health services under so much pressure I hope that we, as a community, can step up and show support."

The gathering will be held on Saturday, June 19th, from 9am and Megan already has a guest speaker, who has personal experience of dealing with mental health issues, lined up for the day. She is also working on an idea to post laminated photographs of local people on the bridge so that anyone who goes there feeling desperate may see a friendly face.

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Megan, who moved to live in Bolton to be with her partner last year, added: "Someone might go to the bridge feeling really down and spot someone they know amongst the photographs, a friendly face, and it could be a lifeline for them to see they aren't alone."

Two petitions are ongoing calling for Gannow Top bridge to be made more secure to deter potential suicide victims
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She also wants to include music at the rally to give the day an upbeat and positive feel.

Megan, who has launched a facebook page for the event called Stand for Suicide Prevention, added: "I think it is vital to remove the stigma attached to mental health issues and for people to feel they can talk openly about their feelings, especially men, who do seem to struggle to talk."

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Megan, who is due to begin a new job in sales after being on furlough for over a year, also hopes the rally will boost backing for the two petitions.

The first one, launched by Padiham's Jordan Taylor, is calling for Gannow Top and all motorway bridges in the UK to have a safety dome, netting or anti-climbing fence installed.

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A mental health awareness day will be held at Gannow Top bridge later this month

Jordan said: "Mental Health services are currently experiencing long waiting times and support is just not readily available for everyone.

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"Suicide rates are high and many people are struggling in the pandemic. Physical suicide interventions are more important than ever. "

The petition has 1,691 signatures and this week Jordan is planning to email it to a number of mental health and suicide awareness charities to generate more support.

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A passionate campaigner on the issue, in 2018 Jordan spoke to the then Prime Minister Theresa May about tackling the issue of suicide when he was invited to Downing Street at a reception for World Mental Health Day.

A firm believer that it should start in schools, Jordan wants to see children taught to ask for help if they feel worried or down about something so it becames natural for them to seek support.

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The Downing Street brainstorming session resulted in some real positives with an MP appointed for "suicide prevention," more funding pledged for the NHS and accident and emergency facilities, £18M for to keep the Samaritans helpline free and also more charity recognition and TV broadcasting on the issue.

On his return to Lancashire Jordan carried on the campaign with the launch of Start Talking, a new charity to tackle the stigma built around mental health and suicide.

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A second petition, started by Burnley woman Colette Ostle, now has 1,019 names on it.

Colette, who has lived close to the Gannow Top bridge all her life, said it has been a place for vulnerable people to go to for as long as she can remember and now was the time to take action.