The charity Cycle Against Suicide has announced that for the first time it will visit Londonderry.
The second leg of the cycle will arrive in the city on Tuesday, April 28, and as well as inviting local cyclists to take part, organisers have appealed for homeowners in the city to offer up a spare room to host a cyclist for the stopover night.
This is the third year of the cycle, which will start in Belfast on Monday, April 27 visiting Coleraine, Londonderry (via Malin Head) and Enniskillen, before heading to the southern tip of Ireland and finishing in Dublin on May 10.
Established by Irish entrepreneur Jim Breen, Cycle Against Suicide is a charity which seeks to break the stigma associated with suicide through open discussion of mental health and by promoting the message that ‘it’s okay not to feel okay; and it’s absolutely okay to ask for help’.
Cycle Against Suicide directs people in need throughout Ireland to where critical help is available. It partners with local mental health organisations including the Northern Ireland Association for Mental Health, the province’s largest independent mental health charity.
NIAMH chief executive Peter McBride said: “The incidence of suicide in Northern Ireland has been steadily on the rise. It is an issue which is still shrouded in stigma and is not something people feel they can talk about. This stigma makes it extremely hard to be open when you have lost a loved one to suicide.”
Cycle Against Suicide founder Jim Breen said: “The tide has started to turn in the fight to break the stigma that surrounds mental health and we must build on the momentum that is gathering.
“We encourage everyone to register now, for one leg or many. Together, shoulder to shoulder, we can break the cycle of suicide on the island of Ireland.”
Around 300 cyclists are expected to take part in the charity cycle.
Homestay co-ordinator, Geraldine Johnston, said: “As the cycle passes through on the evening of Tuesday 28 we’re looking for homeowners in Londonderry to offer cyclists accommodation, a warm meal, a chance to freshen up, and a bed for the night.”
“People who have opened up their homes to cyclists in previous years have said overwhelmingly, that the Homestay experience was just as rewarding for them as for their guests. I guess it goes back to the old values of our world-famous hospitality, we’ re natural hosts in this part of the world.”
“We’re expecting around 300 participants on each leg in Northern Ireland so we’ll need lots of help and as many spare beds as possible. There has been a terrific response from Homestay providers so far. Of course we’ll also need lots of volunteers to help make our time in each location memorable, whether it’s sandwich makers, road marshals or just supporters at the roadside to cheer on our cyclists.”