Text for help
473. Ron Williamson
474. Charlotte Macleod
A retired businessman and a local government worker run a text helpline in Inverness for distressed young people.
Ron Williamson and Charlotte Macleod run Mikeysline, a text-for-support helpline which is supported by a volunteer bank of young people over weekends. It provides a valuable service for young people who are too distressed to talk over the phone.
In October 2015, Ron’s nephew, Michael ‘Mikey’ Williamson, was tragically found dead in his home in Inverness. Days earlier, Mikey’s close friend, Martin Shaw, a construction worker, had been found dead. Both men were 23 years old and had struggled with their mental health, and are feared to have taken their own lives.
Ron set up Mikeysline as a legacy to Mikey and Martin, regularly travelling up to Inverness from his home in Southampton to work on the project. Charlotte, who is based in Inverness, offered to volunteer on the helpline as her daughter had been friends with Martin and Mikey. She soon found herself getting more involved and now runs the day-to-day management of volunteers and promotion of Mikeysline. Both hope that Mikeysline will help young people who have been bullied, are self-harming, have personal issues, or are depressed, realise that other people do care.
The service runs from 7pm and 7am between Friday evening and Monday morning. Over a weekend, the team deal with 8-12 people, not just through one off texts, but extended conversations which help to divert that person’s attention away from putting themselves in danger. Mikeysline was set up as a text-for-help service rather than a calling helpline because research has shown that when people facing a crisis phone a helpline they often hang up when they hear a voice on the other end. With text, it is easier to make friendly contact.
Prime Minister David Cameron said:
“Offering a text-for-help service is an innovative way to reach out to people who feel more comfortable with a message service than traditional phone helplines. Through Mikeysline, Ron and Charlotte have shown tremendous dedication and have already helped dozens of young people, offering them understanding and peer support in their darkest hours. I am pleased to be able to recognise them both as UK Points of Light.”
Charlotte and Ron said:
“While this recognition is gratefully received, the real credit goes to the young people of Inverness, Mikey and Martin’s friends and peers, who have thrown themselves wholeheartedly behind the project. Without their initial and continued support Mikeysline would never have got off the ground.”
Inverness MP, Drew Hendry, said:
“I am delighted that both Ron and Charlotte are being recognised as Points of Light. That they have created such a positive project from their own personal loss is quite remarkable and it is great to see their commitment and dedication being recognised in this way. The work they are doing with Mikey’s line is providing assistance to young people when they need it most and the help they have already provided to young people who have turned to them for support shows what an asset they and the other Mikey’s line volunteers are to our community.”