No Substitute for Life

Engage Renfrewshire were approached by a member of the community, Paul Cardona, to seek advice on holding an event to raise awareness around suicide. With Paul as the lead we brought partners together to support his idea and turn it into a reality.

As a resident of Ferguslie Park which has seen high levels of deprivation and also suicide over the past decade, Paul Cardona decided it was time to do something about it. Paul had experienced suicide at a personal level with a few of his friends and members of this close knit community taking their own lives. The idea was to hold a memorial football tournament to get the local residents involved and attending the event, especially young men who were most at risk of suicide. The event would then have the added benefit of acting as an awareness raising platform for local and national organisations who tackle the stigma of mental health and suicide.


The main aims for the event are:

  • The event will be community led which empowers community ownership
  • The communities involvement maximises communities capacity
  • Incorporating suicide prevention messages throughout the event will reduce stigma.
  • Having access to information will reduce the barriers to help seeking information.
  • Raising awareness about suicide and how to keep safe will promote help seeking resources.
  • Inviting help to seek resources such as Breathing Space/Samaritans will encourage help seeking behaviour.

To produce an event that would achieve these aims we set out recruiting partners who could offer a resource and who would be more versed in suicide prevention. From this we brought Choose Life, YMCA and RAMH to the table. Several planning meetings were then held and on 24th June the event was held and was a great success in attracting people from Ferguslie. Over 500 turned up on the day and with various activities out with the football everyone was encouraged to take part and gather information on mental health and suicide. A closing ceremony was also held with a prize giving and a balloon release with messages to those lost to suicide written on them.

The main outcomes for the day were:

  • To provide an opportunity to remember people who have been lost
  • Reduce barriers to help seeking behaviour.
  • Engage young men directly with suicide prevention message through a football tournament

A questionnaire was also conducted on the day to gain opinion of what people thought of the event and to measure the impact it had. The overall census was that the event was a great success and had provided relevant information that people wouldn’t normally access due to stigma.

Future Development
After the event we held an evaluation meeting to look at the feedback from questionnaires. From this feedback it was highlighted that there were different levels of interest from the participants on what information or support they would require in the future. As a result of this a second event was planned to be held in the Tannahill Centre in the heart of Ferguslie on Saturday 8th September to provide information sessions, Launch the mental health directory and also provide training for local people. The event was called ‘Flourishing in Ferguslie’.

Find out more about the organisation and ones like it on the Engage Renfrewshire Website