Anti-suicide chaplains in desperate need of funding

Members of the Beachy Head Chaplaincy Team look out over the cliffs that are the site of 30 suicides each

The award-winning Beachy Head chaplaincy team is facing the prospect of having to close its doors if it doesn't find extra funding soon.

Aiding in the rescue of those who come to commit suicide on the picturesque but deadly chalk headland in East Sussex, which features a stomach-lurching 500 foot drop, a dedicated team of Christians patrol the area 24/7.

An average of 30 people commit suicide at Beachy Head each year, though this number would be far higher without the efforts of the chaplaincy team; in April alone they were involved in 79 incidents, and recued 38 despondent or suicidal individuals.

It is statistics such as these that make the service the chaplaincy team provides so vital, and which resulted in the team receiving the Queen's Award for Voluntary Service last week.

14 expertly trained volunteers, along with four experienced chaplains, have worked tirelessly over the past decade to provide help and a listening ear to vulnerable people, but unfortunately the money to fund their service has run out; £10,000 a month is needed to keep the organisation afloat.

This desperate situation has led director Mark Pybus to give the team's first ever interview. He spoke to the Telegraph, saying, "I do believe that more lives will be saved if we talk about this and get the financial help we need to continue".

He also shared of his team's Christian ethos - only believers can train. "We pray before every single session, to be in the right place in the right time with the right words. We believe you need to be Christian to do that," he explained, adding that the "best place" for chaplains to receive the care and support they themselves need is "within a small group in a local church".

Despite their own convictions, Pybus noted it "most unlikely" that any mention of faith is made in the event of speaking to a despondent individual.

"We have to show true humility. We have to show them that we care and that we are completely non-judgmental and that they can tell us things they can't tell others," he said.

The team is looking to keep going, but with a reduced team of just director, administrator and two part-time chaplains plus volunteers. They are determined that Beachy Head will not go unpatrolled, fearful of what the consequences of that may be.

"We are out saving lives 24 hours a day," Pybus told the Telegraph.

"Unless we can get some significant funds by the end of the month, this service will have to end and we won't be here to save lives in the future."

To donate to the Chaplaincy Team at Beachy Head, click here.

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