The Duke of Cambridge has met the mother of a young man who took his own life as he opened the UK’s first centre outside of a clinic or hospital for helping suicidal men by giving counselling and therapy.
James’ Place, a four-storey town house in Liverpool’s Georgian quarter is a new initiative formed by Clare Milford Haven and Nick Wentworth-Stanley, the parents of James Wentworth-Stanley, 21, who took his own life while a student in Newcastle in 2006.
On the visit the duke heard that both young and middle-aged men are especially at risk of suicide as they do not use conventional medical services, sometimes through stigma or a sense of shame, when they are in crisis.
James’ Place aims to offer a calm, friendly, non-hospital or clinic environment, where men can get help.
James’ younger brother, Harry, and three friends rowed across the Atlantic in 2016, raising £600,000 in donations to help build the centre, which has been 10 years in the planning, since James’ death 11 years ago.
James’ mother, who is the Marchioness of Milford Haven, thanked the duke for “bringing the subject out of the shadows” as he officially opened the centre.
She said: “Thank you for coming today, it means the world to us.
“Very much spurred on by our own tragedy and our own experience of James’ looking for help when he felt very anxious and suicidal in Newcastle, for him not finding that help, the help he needed anyway.
“I always felt had a place like this existed, he might still be here today.
“So that was a very compelling reason to start this project.
“I feel very much that James is here with us.”
Taking referrals from local hospitals, student counselling services, police and street triage services, visitors will be offered a service of one-to-one free therapeutic support during their time of need.
Visitors will have an initial appointment to find out the treatment needed and then will be offered a tailored service of one-to-one free therapeutic support.
James’ family, who are from Hampshire and Worcestershire, have no connections to Liverpool, but set up the centre in the city as the local health authority, Mersey Care, were the most receptive to the project, they said.
Speaking to parents who also lost sons to suicide during the hour-long visit, the duke said: “Suicide really is a quite a big problem, and we don’t talk about it.”
Earlier, the duke visited the International Business Festival in Liverpool, touring the event’s exhibition space, talking with delegates and meeting young entrepreneurs.
The duke visited exhibitors from India and Shanghai, Liverpool’s twin city, before he was shown the Government’s UK Innovation Hub at the event, to see cutting-edge and transformative technologies, including 3D-printed robotic limbs produced by a team based at the University of Manchester.
Addressing delegates the duke said: “I was impressed to learn that the Festival has delivered more than half a billion pounds of new trade and investment to date.
“Britain has always been a champion of trade and a hub for commerce and exchange between our nations. There is perhaps nowhere in the country that embodies this more than Liverpool.
“We know that one of the major challenges for industry is access to a skilled workforce.
“It’s something which business and civil society must work together on. It is only by investing in the skills of our young people in enterprise that we will be able to build the fair and prosperous society that we want our children to inherit.”
Max Steinberg, chairman of the International Business Festival, said: “The support of the duke has helped us to champion the importance of the business sector, and to inspire, connect and inform businesses from across the UK and the world.
“Making new global connections will help the small and medium businesses at the Festival to find growth and reach their potential.”