Building communication between professionals, golden threads of understanding” is one of the hopes that Kevin Buchanan has for the STORM® Community Engagement Conference, scheduled for the 19th October 2017.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of STORM® Skills Training.  What started as a small project within the University of Manchester has now expanded into an independent, sustainable social business that is giving back to the Greater Manchester Community. 

To mark this occasion, the STORM® Team, with support from the Share Health Foundation, are organising a free-to attend STORM® Conference.  The conference forms part of our annual Community Engagement Programme, one of the things that sets STORM apart.  Investing our surplus income into the community makes our social impact twofold; the benefit from the Skills Training and the benefit of our Community Engagement Programme.

The conference, Suicide Prevention Across the Community: Making Connections, has two major themes:  1. Working together in a Devolved Manchester and 2. Suicide Prevention Across the Lifespan.  We spoke to Kevin Buchanan, who is running two workshops on the day, about his involvement and hopes for the conference.  

Across the ages – young people

My role, at Newall Green, is helping students become ‘adult ready.' says Kevin, Assistant Headteacher at Newall Green High School, “It’s about the soft skills that help students grow from young people to adults.”  Mr Buchanan’s first workshops on the 19th of October will focus on what he sees as the first step of suicide prevention “equipping young people and their parents to be able to talk about emotional health, emotions and situations they are facing in life.” 

Kevin speaks passionately about developing a common language between young people and parents and providing the tools to be able to discuss these important subjects.  During our conversation, he explained the Time for TEA initiative; a CBT based program developed by Kevin and colleague Lindsey Shaffer, to enhance student resilience.  “Time for Tea”, he says “shows that resilience can be taught and caught.” That is, resilience is a skill that can be taught and one way of teaching is through modeling positive coping; something he practices in his work life on a daily bases.   

Working together

For Kevin, the conference is also about building a common language across various sectors including education, health, social care and the community sector - “It (the conference) is great because it’s helping to build a local web of support.  Having all the various agencies in the same room, speaking to each other.

Kevin’s second workshop, also presented with Lindsey, will look at building this common language across professions.  Kevin talks of a moving the focus away from mental illness and towards mental health; something that everyone has, and which is dynamic and changeable.

The STORM® Team hopes that the conference provides a space for collaboration and cross fertilisation across agencies and sectors, we believe that by working together we can contribute to suicide prevention across the Greater Manchester Community.

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Rotherham Doncaster and South Humber NHS Foundation Trust (RDaSH) first implemented the STORM® Skills Training package in 2010.  Following on from its success they reinvested in STORM® in 2016, up-skilling a new group of facilitators to continue the roll out of Suicide Prevention and Self-Harm Mitigation training across the organisation.     STORM® training enhances the professional skills and development of the health trust’s staff.    I spoke to a few of the RDaSH STORM® facilitators, 12 months after their training, to learn about their training experiences within the organisation.    …

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