A North East charity boss has completed a grueling 289-mile challenge to deliver a letter to the new Prime Minister, calling on her to do more to prevent suicides.

Matthew Smith founded suicide prevention charity If U Care Share after the devastating loss of his brother Daniel O’Hare who died by suicide.

He set off last month on an 11-day, 289-mile run from the charity’s Chester-le-Street offices to Downing Street to deliver a letter to new Prime Minister Liz Truss calling for suicide prevention to be included in the Government’s Levelling Up agenda.

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Speaking on the final day of his challenge he told The Northern Echo: “It has been really tough and I’m exhausted but it’s for a really important cause.

“I’ve done 26 miles a day pretty much every day and it’s really taken its toll.

“I’ve seen things on my feet that I’ve never seen before, they’re really battered and covered in blisters.

The Northern Echo:

“The support along the way has been incredible. We’ve been joined by some amazing people and we’ve raised over £28,000.

“It sounds cliché but to us that’s a massive amount of money to us and literally every penny saves a life.

“Suicide prevention needs to be part of the Government’s Levelling Up agenda because the North East and North West have the highest rates of suicide - and it should be an obvious option to invest in to improve things.”

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Because of the new PM entering office yesterday Matthew was unable to deliver the letter by hand but it has been sent to Liz Truss and he now awaits a reply.

He also met with Speaker of the House of Commons Sir Lindsay Hoyle on Wednesday (September 7) in a bid to get his campaign into parliament.

New figures released by the ONS on Tuesday (September 6) revealed that the North East had the highest suicide rate of any part of the UK in 2021.

There were 14.1 deaths by suicide recorded per 100,000 people, up on 13.3 the previous year.

The rate in London was less than half of that in our region, at 6.6 deaths per 100,00 people.

He originally hoped to raise £25,000 during the challenge but has raised £28,725 so far and now hopes to hit the £30,000 mark.

Anyone wishing to donate to the fundraiser can visit www.bit.ly/matthewsrun or text the word ‘MATTHEW’ to 70085 to donate £10.

If you are in need of support you can contact the following:

- Samaritans is available, day or night, 365 days of the year. You can call them for free on 116 123, email them at jo@samaritans.org, or visit www.samaritans.org to find your nearest branch.

- If U Care Share on 0191 387 5661 or text IUCS to 85258

- SANE on 07984 967 708, Calm on 0800 58 58 58

- Tees, Esk and WearValleys NHS Foundation Trust crisis line 0800 0516 171.

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