By Louie Bell, News Investigations Editor
The collective will produce various online events until January, including breakfast book clubs, knit-along events and dance sessions and will feature a ‘Sunflower Students’ project that aims to support students throughout the whole of the year.
Loo Fletcher, a suicide prevention activist, mental health advocate and former Bristol student, has founded the Sunflower Suicide Prevention Collective.
The launch of the collective has taken place today to coincide with World Suicide Prevention Day.
The collective has set out to use community and creativity to ‘shine some light into someone’s day’.
Loo’s previous work, The Sunflower Suicide Prevention Project, ‘sowed the seeds’ into the collective on world Mental Health Day in October last year.
Speaking to Epigram, Loo outlined the plans for the collective, saying: ‘The Sunflower collective runs with the seasons. This is to reflect that mental health is not linear, how there is a time to bloom, a time for seeds to be sown and a time to water those seeds.
‘Today is the announcement of the Autumn and Winter campaign, which runs from World Mental Health Day on the 10 October until January, inclusive. The sunflower series is called ‘Flow’ and there will be announcements from now until October regarding how people can get involved.
‘That’s the wider message that suicide prevention shouldn’t be about one day, actually it should be every single day.’
The collective will announce events via Loo’s website and social media, including breakfast book clubs, sunflower stories, knit-along-with events, dance sessions and more, featuring various guest appearances.
It also features a programme called ‘Sunflower Students’ that aims to support students throughout the whole of the year.
‘It’s a very difficult time going back to University this year in the light of Covid-19. Belonging is really important, and I want students to be included in their own student populations and communities but also in the wider sphere of the city in which they’re living.
‘It’s a way of them getting involved in city-wide activities and projects, but also a separate thing for themselves.’
Loo highlighted the importance of using the outside space and environment to draw students into thinking about wellbeing and their mental health outside of their student rooms.
‘This is particularly important now with the introduction of living circles, and the scenario in which you don’t like who you’re living with, so the idea is how the interface of offline and online can bring a sense of community to students themselves.
‘Everyone is welcome. Loneliness at University is a massive thing, so I want to provide that little bit of hope now, prior to Welcome Week so that it can launch on 10 October.’
The collective uses the imagery of sunflowers because of their significance in turning towards the light in order to bloom, their growth together in fields and their appearance in an array of different shapes and sizes.
Loo emphasised the nature of the collective as being defined by values, and not being constrained by space. ‘For me, it’s not a Bristol-specific thing. Community is not defined by your location but by your feelings, so watch this space as it is growing.’
The Sunflower Collective will launch on World Mental Health Day (10th October 2020). For more information and updates as the collective unfolds, visit www.loofletcher.com
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