A GOOD cause focused on preventing suicide while supporting the bereaved has marked its first anniversary at its Clackmannanshire base.

Neil's Hugs Foundation, located behind room 58 at Alloa's Lime Tree House, has reported a great first year since setting up a base at its Wee County office.

The organisation has received support from SlanjEvents, the organisers of Clackmannanshire's Whisky Festival, and it is set to again be the main beneficiary of the event when it rolls around at the end of next March.

The foundation is also set to collaborate with the Wimpy Park Community Group who are donating a portion of the former walled gardens.

Neil's Hugs volunteers will be using the opportunity to develop a reflection garden, a calming space where anyone, not just those affected by suicide, can visit for space to think.

As a charity, Neil's Hugs runs a number of support groups in Clackmannanshire, including a Tea and Chat group for women, a group for families and people bereaved by suicide, as well as a support circle for people and families living with neurodiversity, such as autism or ADHD.

Janice Muir, volunteer at Neil's Hugs in Clackmannanshire, told the Advertiser: “The overarching goal of the charity is suicide prevention.

“We know people with neurodiversity are at a higher risk of suicide, we know that men are at a higher risk of suicide, we know that people from deprived areas are three times as likely [to take their own lives].

“We also know that Clacks has historically had really high levels of suicide for our population; we've either been highest in Scotland or near-high – last year, we were just under Dundee."

The subject can be tricky to tackle and Janice told the Advertiser how one suicide death may affect more than a 100 people, with colleagues, friends, communities and of course immediate family among those impacted.

On top of the partnership with SlanjEvents, the group has also worked with O-I glassworks to run information sessions for staff while Dark Horse Tattoo parlour in Alloa has received thanks for fundraising support.

The charity is still relatively small, working only in Clacks and East Lothian at the moment.

However, people have been attending in the Wee County from further afield as well while a telephone listening service is also available.

Looking ahead, Janice is hoping to build a strong base of volunteers with mental health first aid training planned.

Information sessions are also available in workplaces and for community groups.

Those interested in accessing support or volunteering can call Janice on 07926577725 or email clacks@neilshugsfoundation.com.

Visit neilshugsfoundation.com for more details.