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NHS advice to make ‘small talk’ with Grenfell victims during bleak January

NHS says impact of neighbourly stop and chats on the depressed and overwhelmed cannot be overstated

12 January, 2018 — By Tom Foot

An outreach team is working with survivors and those affected by the disaster

AN NHS outreach team is reminding people to make “small talk” with residents affected by Grenfell disaster during what is traditionally the bleakest week of the year.

The Grenfell NHS, run by Central North West London NHS Trust, is giving out the advice ahead of so-called “Blue Monday”, a point in the year when suicidal thoughts can be prevalent.

The advice is based on a film by the Samaritans that aims to disrupt suicidal thinking through sim- ple conversation – even a question about the weather can be enough – and create a sense that some- one is “watching over them”. Simple chat can also provide vital time to raise the alarm by calling the NHS, say the experts.

Jim O’Donnell, manager of the Grenfell Outreach team, said: “Blue Monday is a time when we think of the people feeling sad, depressed or overwhelmed after the Christmas holidays and going into a new year. This is especially true in the Grenfell area.

“The value of friendships, social and family support cannot be over- stated, so if you notice someone you know becoming isolated or more worried than usual, or they are saying worrying things, talk with them – small talk saves lives.

“The community has already faced an enormous amount of hurt and pain; but it has also responded with compassion for each other, through the volunteers, the community groups, the churches and faith organisations, and gatherings everywhere – this is the real spirit of Grenfell.”

The NHS Grenfell Outreach Team is encouraging individuals or families to contact them if they notice “changes in behaviour”, withdrawal, appearing preoccupied or worried, changes in sleep patterns or saying worrying things.

Anyone who is concerned should call for help on 0800 0234 650.

The team will be distributing stickers around Grenfell, north Kensington, about the health advice.

The NHS team is also promoting the Journey of Hope scheme which is “building up a network of people trained in resilience, and as extra eyes and ears to help the community”.

Dr John Green, chief psychologist and clinical director for Grenfell NHS, said: “But we would like to ask people in the community to help us to help anyone in need of our services. Please look out for each other, for family, friends and neighbours; and if you’re worried about someone, talk to them – as the Samaritans say, ‘small talk saves lives’ and a kind word can often make all the difference. If you need to contact us on behalf of yourself or someone else then we are there.”

You can watch the Samaritans film here: www.youtube.com/watch ?v=KiynAdEuyWQ

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