Staff from If U Care Share Foundation, based in Chester Le Street, have been running the charity from home and arranging online and over the phone support for people who are struggling emotionally and mentally at this time.   

A £5,000 grant through County Durham Community Foundation, from the National Emergencies Trust, has helped the team keep going.   

Before the pandemic, the charity was working with more than 200 people at risk of death by suicide, but now calls to the service have doubled.   

Dominic McDonough, event manager for the charity said: “We had a phone call from a lady who was ready to take her life, so we kept her on the phone and managed to get the police to the scene to ensure that she was safe. This lady might not have been here now if it wasn’t for our staff talking to her on the phone. She is now getting the help and support she needs. We will be in constant connection with her over the coming weeks, helping to improve her situation and supporting her through a very difficult time.”  

The charity’s forecasted income from events is now in jeopardy due to a number of cancelled fundraising events, but Dominic reports that they have had a lot of public support.  

He added: “The community response has been great – we have even had people shaving their hair to raise money for us and doing other challenges. We’ve even had cakes delivered from people who wanted to show appreciation for what we do.    

“The biggest fear for us as an organisation is the financial worry as the demand is only going to get worse over the next few weeks. People are worrying about money and not getting that face-to-face support. The longer this continues the more people are going to be at risk.”  

County Durham has one of the highest rates of suicide in the country with those bereaved by suicide 70 per cent more likely to take their own life.   

 If U Care Share was set up by Shirley Smith and husband Dean after their 19-year-old son, Daniel, took his own life in 2005. The charity offers a range of therapies including counselling, trauma support and alternatives such as massage and sport. The charity also works in schools to promote good emotional and mental health.   

Dominic added: “There is nothing better than saving somebody’s life and we have made that difference.”