Listening Ear and Amparo

Highlighting best practice as a representative in The Parliamentary Review

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from Listening Ear and Amparo is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Chief Executive RichardBrown
St Helens suicide memorial
event, 2019
Listening Ear Merseyside has been providing an acclaimed
counselling service for children, young people and adults
affected by bereavement, separation or loss since 1993.
In 2003, its adult counselling service achieved BACP service
accreditation, and in 2015 it launched Amparo, a pioneering
service to support people who have been bereaved by
suicide. Listening Ear’s Chief Executive Richard Brown tells
The Parliamentary Review
how Amparo has grown from this
Whoever wrote the lyrics to the
theme tune was wrong; suicide isn’t
painless. It leaves in its wake a trail of devastation among those people who knew
the person taking their own life. In 2003, when a young mum took her life and
her niece and brother discovered her body, it triggered us to create a new service
to support families, friends and work colleagues who were affected by suicide.
Following a number of years of development,it’s a service that is now being
delivered across a growing number of areas in the UK.
I knew that counselling wasn’t always appropriate for those who had lost someone
to suicide, but that statistics showed that nine per cent of people affected by
suicide could go on to take their own lives. What was needed was a service that
could intervene immediately once a suicide was notified, to work with those
affected to ensure they were supported in their dealings with coroners, the
police and, potentially, the media. In this way, family members, friends and work
colleagues who had been affected could find a supported way to come to terms
with what had happened.
»Chief Executive:
»Founded in 2003
»Based in Knowsley, Merseyside
»Services: Counselling for
children, young people and
adults, suicide postvention and
»No. of employees: 36
»Listening Ear’s Amparo service
is delivered to a population of
around 5 million people
Listening Ear and
Highlighting best practice
Working with managers, staff and
volunteers, I worked up a proposal
for Listening Ear to provide exactly
that service and, after tendering to a
consortium of regional public health
teams, Amparo was born. Amparo
means shelter in Spanish – and that’s
exactly what we wanted to provide at
a time when people feel devastated.
Offering support for those
affected by suicide
From the moment the police suspect
or a coroner concludes that someone
has died by suicide, we make contact
with family members or whoever had
discovered the suicide within 24 hours
of a referral. From that point onwards,
a suicide liaison worker helps guide
people through the complexities of
an inquest, dealing with the police
and preparing themselves for media
coverage of the case. We also help
to ensure that people are signposted
to an appropriate specialist or local
services that can help support them in
the longer term.
We can evidence impressive success; in
our first four years working in Cheshire
and Merseyside, not a single beneficiary
of our service went on to take their
own life, a figure that I put down to
the way in which our staff approach
their role. We design the service around
the needs of each individual, and we’re
careful to measure the impact we have
through the use of appropriate tools
such as the Warwick-Edinburgh Mental
Wellbeing Scale.
At our heart, we aim to alleviate
the distress of those exposed to or
bereaved by suicide and to reduce
the risk of imitative suicidal behaviour
and suicide clusters. An important
additional consideration is also the
economic cost of suicide, which is far
greater than some would imagine.
According to Public Health England,
a single suicide is estimated to cost
£1.67 million in terms of the impact
on the wider health, social care and
employment networks. We therefore
represent a cost-effective way to both
support those affected by suicide and
to reduce the costs of suicide tosociety.
Amparo is promoted
at a range of outreach
At our heart,
we aim to
alleviate the
distress of
those exposed
to or bereaved
by suicide
Continuing to develop our
Since launching in Cheshire and
Merseyside, Amparo has grown
to cover Sussex, Norfolk, Barnsley,
Doncaster, Rotherham, East Lancashire
and the Fylde Coast, making our
services available to a total of
approximately five million people, as an
increasing number of local authorities
recognise the value of what we have
termed “suicide postvention”.
But it’s not just about helping
individuals at times of crisis. We have
also worked with a number of local
authorities in Merseyside, Cheshire
and elsewhere to hold a series of
memorial events to remember those
who have taken their own lives.
These are uplifting events, like the
one hosted at the Totally Wicked
Stadium in St Helens early in 2019,
which was attended by upwards of
170 people. These events offer the
people who have been bereaved by
suicide a chance to recognise they are
not alone and that support is available.
Too often we hear family members
talk of the shame of remembering the
death by suicide of their loved one, so
these events offer an opportunity to
celebrate their lives with people who
know what they’ve gone through.
We can also work with employers,
schools and other institutions to help
manage the impact when a suicide
occurs in their community. This helps
lessen the risk of further suicides
happening in the future and raises
awareness. As we have developed, so
has the expertise of our staff team.
Our aim is to ensure that anyone
who has been affected by a suicide
is appropriately supported, and our
staff go the extra mile to provide that
support time and time again. This is
something we are hugely proud of
and something we will continue, in the
future, to endeavour to achieve.
Our aim is to
ensure that
anyone who
has been
affected by a
suicide is
Amparo Suffolk was
launched at the Sussex
Life Savers event in
September 2018

This article was sponsored by Listening Ear and Amparo. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it.