Welcome to my 2020 instalments of my column in a local newspaper, I thought it would be a great idea to collect them all for easy viewing if you cannot get the printed version. Enjoy.

Entry 4

Happy February everyone, 

                                                Since my last entry, many events have taken place, mainly the grand opening of our new workshop @ 28 Long Commons – providing the borough with tailored mental health community driven facilities. Our non-referral counselling and mental health mentoring has been extremely popular, and recently we have just launched the North Coast’s first bereaved mothers support group and bereaved by suicide groups which take place weekly our schedule is publicised each Sunday afternoon on our Facebook Page. The services available have been created through my families personal experience of what we believe was missing whilst Zachary was a child and young adult under the care of the mental health services in Northern Ireland, which is why we have  developed a unique mentoring programme and mental health action plan service which tackles not only the issues he faced but also the problems we fell victim too as suicide survivors. 

Also, in January we seen the reformation of the Northern Ireland government in Stormont, who have displayed and promised that mental health and tackling our current suicide epidemic is top priority for the Department of Health. Multi-disciplinary teams are being placed in GP Surgery’s throughout the country as a first step to improve the current situation. For people in my position and I am sure many others, we are extremely tired of empty promises, pointless surveys, endless board room meetings and high-flying conferences priced at £700 per ticket, which contain ‘professionals’ in the area of mental health. On a day to day basis, I look the most vulnerable people in the eye and listen to the failures they have experienced, before progress can be made, it is adamant that trust is reinstated between user and professional service as we have been let down continuously as our statistics rise. Currently represented predominately by the wrong people, who are separated from the real issue and the people of Northern Irelands true needs. I can only hope that the incoming months as new solutions are rolled out across Northern Ireland that they first work on our basic needs, regaining our trust, taking action instead of speaking meaningless words and then in turn we will see a grassroots change, however, until that time – a message to all those in power – understanding is not taught at school, university or college. It is unfortunately learnt through personal experience and we are the only ones who can tell you what we need. 

The ending of this month sees the last of The Community Rescue Service’s Mental Health and Wellbeing Workshops which I have had the pleasure of facilitating once again, the next two sessions are focusing on the wellbeing segment, particularly on techniques to switch off (19th Feb) and the benefit of physical exercise for mental health (26th Feb) both of which takes place in Portrush Masonic Hall from 7pm – 9pm. 

Our first outside facilitated course within the workshop starts on Wednesday 19th February from 12pm – 3pm which is a 4 week crochet course, free to all users – Wednesday is our scheduled ‘Creative Corner’ day so when we were approached with this idea we thought that it would fit in great with our normal Wednesday activities. We are currently accepting donations of wool if anyone has any spare, please drop them in and we can make good use of this. Holding workshops enables us to bring the most vulnerable and lonely members of the community together to promote inclusiveness and learn them a new craft whilst making new friends. 

Lastly, please always note that I am available to contact for any queries, recommendations or suggestions surrounding your own mental health needs, ideas for the workshop or services you would like to see ZGBTST roll out in the future. 

& Always remember, 

                              You Matter


Entry 5

Well hello everyone and welcome back, 

            Happy March does not seem like the most appropriate of openings for this month given our current situation – March has brought a lot of things besides the epidemic. One thing it has made me realise is just how fragile our place on earth really is and how bizarre things can get within a matter of days. We saw the incoming of the virus and I saw the importance of the #bekind movement being thrown to the side lines almost immediately because something new has come our way, I watched people attack each other and the fear crash into many of us within the community. My number 1 worry is vulnerable people being forced into isolation when we fought so hard to make them feel accepted. During this time, The Zachary Geddis Break the Silence Trust will be offering online seminars covering all of the workshops I have developed over the past 12 months – as a way to educate people further in the comfort of their own homes, hopefully keep the movement of mental health matters to the forefront everyone’s minds but also to assist those who need it in this vital time where anxiety, panic attacks, isolation and paranoia can be at an all-time high. You can find us on Facebook: @zgbtst17 avail of this. 

Mental illness was here before the virus, it will be here during the virus and it will outlive the virus. To be fair, I have borne witness too many communities joining forces but also seen the attention being brought to those who are not actually in need and those who are genuinely in need, unable to speak out. The way today’s society is crafted we can never really win. 

Back to ZGBTST news: In January 2020 the Trust was lucky enough to be shortlisted for the Caffe Nero Make A Difference Campaign where myself and Adam Steele flew to London to make our pitch in front of Caffe Nero founder – Gerry Ford. We won our pitch and we are now the face of the Make a Difference Campaign across the United Kingdom – we obviously are unsure on how this is going to pan out right now but we are hopeful and even the fact we were able to secure this is massive for the trust.

March also brought in the most dreaded time of year for myself and my family it was Zachary’s 3rd year anniversary on Wednesday 18th March – the 17th and 18th are always a trying time for my family and Zachary’s friends so we marked it as the day we launched my dad’s new cycling challenge of this year, if you don’t know – in 2018 & 2019 my Dad Terry Geddis has completed two mammoth cycling ventures across Ireland and Northern Ireland, 2020 is now going to be his biggest yet. He is aiming to cycle 20,000 km and raise £20,000 for ZGBTST  and its growing services throughout the United Kingdom, since January 1st he has been pacing himself and cycling in private to see if his body is up to scratch and it passed the test. This cannot be laid off until next year as the number 20 marks Zachary’s forever age. You can find out more about the cycle and how to donate via our Facebook page. 

Our workshop @ 28 Long Commons remains open and we are still facilitating and taking new clients on for free of charge, no referral counselling if anyone feels as though they are struggling at this time, you are more than welcome to get in touch.                                                        

& Always remember, 

                              Wash your hands 


Entry 6

Hello everyone! 

            What a strange couple of weeks have followed since the announcement of lockdown within the United Kingdom. I, myself have started to limit the amount of time I spend on social media reading the news articles and public posts about the virus. For a number of weeks now the scaremongering attached to false information has been a talking point of the clients ZGBTST is currently assisting within the community as I am sure it is within your household too. The increase of anxiety and social withdrawal has come to a height, our inboxes and online accounts are going into overdrive dealing with the needs of the local community around us and it gives me pride that we are one of the mental health organisations that are able to adapt online and provide everyone with a safe haven of support. 

I thought it would be useful to use my column and reach during this time to give you all more information on the impact isolation can have on our mental health but also provide everyone with 5 top tips on how to limit anxiety and promote a more positive mental health and wellbeing; 

  1. Spend your time doing something you can control. 

For example, keep a journal – this can help express anxiety in a way you can control. Once you have written down your worries, problems or fears, learn to let them go. Allow yourself to look at them presented on the page then put the journal away. If you are not one to write things down – it is important that you express your worries in any way possible. It is common to feel worried, scared, unmotivated or helpless during this time. It is the same for everyone, sharing how you are feeling and the things you are doing to cope with family and friends can help them too. 

  • Think about and change your thought process 

Remain really aware about what you are thinking. Sometimes we are catastrophising, we are spending our time focusing on the ‘what ifs’. Bring things back to what you actually know instead. Use that energy to reassure and calm yourself. Learn to self soothe. 

  • Give yourself a wellbeing check

Always make sure you are looking after yourself, doing what you can to help you get a good night’s sleep, eating well and doing some exercise. Managing our health during these times is the most important thing, this can make us more robust to anxiety before it starts to creep in. 

  • Change one thing at a time 

Routines are hard to start, but they are even more hard to stop. Implementing one thing in your current routine that could positively benefit your life is more than enough. Trying to take on more than one change is a recipe for disaster. Start small, work big. 

  • Maintaining Self-Management 

Anxiety and depression link our brain and body. Make sure you are doing what you can to look after your physical health. Taking some time out, getting some fresh air, light exercise even a small walk, washing your face and applying sunscreen can all provide the tools for relaxation, therefore decreasing stress hormones. 

I am currently running a series online, top tips under 5 where I share all mental health and well-being tips on YouTube for the duration of lockdown, which are all under 5 minutes long – you can view them on our Facebook page: Zachary Geddis Break the Silence Trust. 

If anyone is feeling overwhelmed, needs assistance or simply someone to talk too, our helpline is running everyday: 07934187147 

& Always remember, 

                              Wash your hands 


Entry 7

Hello everyone! 

            Happy May – I am welcoming the incoming weeks easing of restrictions with open arms – however stressing to everyone to remain vigilant when interacting with others and promote caution where necessary to ensure we can keep moving forward. 

I think lessons have been learnt the past couple of months, and it fits nicely with the theme for 2020’s Mental Health Awareness Week which is kindness. Since the beginning of lockdown, I seen people within our community come together to help others. They put others in front of themselves and started assisting the most vulnerable people in our society, whether it was through food collection, daily check ins or prescription collection people from all walks of life were interacting more than ever. 

            It was heart-warming to see as well as families spending more time together without the interruption of life getting in the way – I hope that we can continue this experience and remember the importance of family when life returns to normal! But until then, I am working hard behind the scenes with updating our website, designing our phased reopening of our workshop and organising volunteers as like many mental health services, we are increasingly worried and aware that a possible influx of service users is going to arrive at our door once restrictions lift and we are preparing to assist in every way possible.

If you would like to be involved with ZGBTST’s work through our workshop in Coleraine Centre, please contact us and we can send you over all relevant details. 

18th – 24th May seen Mental Health Awareness Week come and go yet again, but this time organisations like myself could not get out an campaign/hold events like usual – so ZGBTST hosted a ‘Talking with…’ series that seen me sitting down with popular faces to discuss mental health and the importance of kindness in our daily lives. It received a number of great reviews and is still available to watch on our YouTube channel. More importantly, I wanted to express the difference positive interaction during mental health awareness week makes, I highlighted 4 main reasons to support this yearly event: 

  1. Raise awareness outside those affected by mental illness 
  2. Inspire action to promote change 
  3. Share unity in eliminating the stigma 
  4. Enhance and continue to the conversation 

Before my brother died, I had never heard of this week long event, I never knew of the groups that could have assisted me and I also didn’t know that there was people out there who actually understood what I was going through – I am hoping by further publicity of this event, the message can reach households far and wide that mental health awareness is something that should be a conversation in everyone’s family.

Voting for the National Diversity Awards has been extended to June 8th. – if you would like to vote for either myself or ZGBTST you can find the link to do so on our socials. 

If anyone is feeling overwhelmed, needs assistance or simply someone to talk too, our helpline is running everyday: 07934187147 

I am hoping to bring some good news in next month’s entry but until then stay safe

& Always remember, 

                           You Matter 


Entry 8

Hello everyone! 

                        I am happy to be writing my June column on a beautiful day as we are hearing daily of restrictions lifting. It has been a strange time for everyone young and old and many are reporting feeling more anxious coming out the end of the lockdown and our helpline and services within ZGBTST have been dealing daily with people in our community who have experienced different mental health strains since March. 

We were delighted on Monday 15th June to reopen our ZGBTST Workshop located at 28 Long Commons to assist people face to face once again. We are currently Monday, Tuesday and Fridays 10.30am – 3.30pm, the purpose of our workshop is to provide a safe haven for people to come and talk with one of our advisors about their mental health needs. From there, we are happy to refer them on to one of our counsellors free of charge and within 7 days of referral. 

Our mental health workshops and therapy group sessions are hoping to be open in August again, but we will keep everyone updated on our new workshop Facebook page: The ZGBTST Workshop, this is where you can also book private appointments with us to come and discuss your needs at a time that suits you. 

June marked our final month as the Mayor’s chosen Charity of the year. Myself and my mum headed to The Causeway Coast and Glens Council offices to have our final photographs taken with Mayor Sean Bateson before the new mayor was announced. It was a pleasure being the chosen charity of the year and we achieved so much within the local community and it helped us gain so much additional support that we will forever be grateful for. 

As with many small charities, lockdown produced a lot of problems in regard to fundraising and funding opportunities. We only hold 2 main fundraisers a year and we run ZGBTST on a voluntary basis so donations are generated straight back into the community, however our main fundraiser which was the Cycle for Suicide 2.0 was cancelled in April as it would have been impossible to complete given the circumstances. However, on Monday we announced the ZGBTST Around Ireland Cycle for Suicide in where my Daddy, Terry Geddis takes off on Monday 29th June on a journey around Ireland covering over 1000 miles in 11 days lighting up his path with a 14 day burning candle in memory of those who have taken their own lives, bereaved by suicide or suffering with mental health issues. 

Last years cycle was a great success with so much support from the local community and further afield, we hope to raise £5000 this year to support our FOC Counselling Services and Art Therapies in our Workshop, if you would like to donate to ZGBTST during this time you can visit our website: www.zacharygeddisbreakthesilencetrust.org to access our go fund me page or you can contact me on my socials detailed below. 

We are releasing the routes daily on our Facebook page and we document his whole journey for the community to follow him, if you even know of a local business who could support us at this time please do not hesitate to contact me.

One more thing that is important to note, the Northern Ireland assembly has appointed their interim Mental Health Champion and it will be interesting to see how this fans out across Northern Ireland for the next year. Governing such a wide area is a task in itself and I believe that in order to fulfil this role completely a mental health representative from each borough should be appointed to ensure complete cohesion, but what do I know. 

Thank you to everyone for continuing to support ZGBTST, we assisted (without any help) over 50 members of the community over 3 months through our helpline and had over 100 visitors to our weekly online workshops with such amazing feedback.

If anyone is feeling overwhelmed, needs assistance or simply someone to talk too, our helpline is running everyday: 07934187147 

& Always remember, 

                           You Matter 


Entry 9

Hello everyone! 

                        What an unexpectantly busy summer! My Dad is safely home from his epic 1000 mile cycle Around Ireland in 12 days – he raised an amazing £6700 for ZGBTST which beat his target of £5000 by miles! 

During his time away I was honoured to receive the Point of Light Award by the Prime Minister Boris Johnston for my dedication to ZGBTST during lockdown – it was extremely hard to keep the Trust running at full capacity and I am thankful to those who helped me be able to continue to provide mental health services to the community of Causeway Coast and Glens – it was such an amazing surprise and made all the late nights and early mornings worth it. On a downside, we also received news that the Trust was unsuccessful in being shortlisted for the National Diversity Awards which was a shame, but our category was filled with amazing people doing amazing things across the UK. 

The ZGBTST workshop is now working at full capacity, open 6 days a week located at 28 Long Commons, Coleraine. 

With 2 new professional counsellors on board and a full schedule of mentoring, we are delighted to be bringing back our Craft and Crochet 4 week workshops, our first workshop is taking place on Thursday 3rd September – due to government guidelines we are running 4 week blocks of workshops with only 4 spaces available and pre-booking your place is necessary. This workshop is fantastic to decrease isolation and get the community together to socialise during a very hard time, you can pre book by contacting me on 07931981962 or through our Facebook Page. 

As we emerge out of lockdown, I have been asked on several occasions on how to be referred to ZGBTST to receive support from our variety of services. 

We have a 24-hour call back policy to discuss your needs and invite you for an initial consultation in our workshop. After the consultation is finished, we have a 7 day guaranteed referral to counselling or mentorship policy which means waiting lists are non-existent in ZGBTST and we strive to maintain our excellent service and feedback. 

How to access ZGBTST services: 

Helpline: Our helpline is open Monday – Sunday from 2pm – 4pm, you can simply ring and request a call back from one of our advisors within 24 hours to discuss your needs. 

Facebook: Our Workshop now has its own Facebook Page where 30-minute consultation spots can be booked in advance. We have a wide variety of times and days available to suit everyone’s needs. Just search: ZGBTST Workshop. 

Drop In: Each Sunday we release our weekly drop in days and times on our Facebook Page – within these times we have advisors ready to complete your contact form and proceed you forward to your consultation. 

Outside Referral: Many other mental health services within the community are using ZGBTST as a referral for outside intervention – we work closely with many other organisations to contribute positively to your mental health and well-being, You can ask your key worker to get in touch and make the referral for you so you do not need to make the first step.

Reaching out is hard, but it is the most important move to make to a better future and it is my responsibility to help you reach your best potential. 

My lines of communication are always open, you can find me at any of the links below at any time. 

& Always remember, 

                           You Matter 


Entry 10

Hello Everyone! 

               Firstly, we have had very unexpected times come upon us once again and our helpline has been busy with calls from the community struggling with their understanding of what is happening in the world and also their anxieties of what is to come. With that said, ZGBTST has now increased its helpline hours from 2pm-4pm daily to 10am – 5pm daily. I hope that anyone struggling with increased worry and stress impacting their lives can reach out even for a simple conversation to us. Our helpline number is: 07934187147 and is available Monday – Sunday. 

Like many charities throughout the pandemic, ZGBTST has struggled this year due to the lack of fundraising events, we were very surprised last week to be contacted by Springwell Running Club to receive a cheque for £300. Myself and my Dad Terry headed down to Castlerock Beach to meet with the club and be presented with our cheque which we were very grateful for! All community donations go straight to ZGBTST and used to positively impact the community, £0 of donations are contributed to salaries, facilitation or rent. ZGBTST is a volunteer ran organisation which we are proud to uphold! 

New progressions within the Trust has been the addition of our new advertised counselling sessions that we have available every week – our slots go live on a Monday morning on our Facebook Page and booking can be made via our helpline or DM, we also have now implemented Saturday Sessions for who cannot get the time off work during the week. Counselling is often portrayed as something that digs into your past and makes you feel uncomfortable, however most counselling sessions are simply a way to release some pressure and talk out situations with a professional that can offer you coping techniques as a way of handling your anxieties or extra stress that you are facing at that time – the first step is really the hardest and that is asking for help. 

On October 16th ZGBTST turns 3 years old – 3 years since we launched our Facebook and Website, unsure of what the journey would become. However, this date also marks my beautiful Brother Zachary’s 24th Birthday. With that note a wash of sadness overcomes me, Zachary should have graduated this year and on the date, I am writing this entry it would be 3 years since he left for University. I will never forget that morning on September 24th 2016 when I drove to my parents’ house to say goodbye to him, he had just won Strictly Come Dancing the night before in the Magherabouy House Hotel, we all got dressed up to support him and after he won he ran up into the crowd to grab me to dance with him to ‘I Will Survive’. I still have the video of this moment. 

I said goodbye to my brother at the door of our family home as him and my parents left for London. I smiled as I waved at him through the door, then I walked away, took our family dog and went and cried in the living room, missing him already. 

The past three years, to get to where we are today, have been filled with pain, heartache and struggle, some I will speak about and some that I will not, but through all of that I am proud of us. I am proud of what we have made in his memory and I hope he is proud of us too. 

See you all next month. 


Always remember, 

                              You Matter


Entry 11

Hello everyone! 

                        It is hard to believe we are in October already, and with the newest restrictions announced recently it can feel as though we have not made much progress since March. Myself and my Dad have had to, once again, move our Karate Classes online which is something we found as a step backwards instead of forwards but at the same time, the safety of everyone is top priority however I have seen, especially around the ZGBTST Workshop a lot of local businesses close. Many people who are not aware of mental health issues in the same way that users of services are, can sometimes be unaware of the implications the current situation can have on individuals who are having their businesses closed, unable to attend indoor sports and unable to socialise the way they have previously been able to. 

ZGBTST has received an influx of service users since the first wave restrictions were lifted and we remain as busy as ever with all of our current counsellor and mentoring which had lead us to our recent decision to expand our workshop services into a new town to enable a wider community to access the help they need during such trying and mentally draining times. On October 14th we announced that ZGBTST will be expanding its current mental health services to the town of Maghera, we have obtained a fantastic space and in November we will be opening our doors. 

Expanding during a pandemic has been very difficult, especially since fundraisers are harder to organise at this time and donations are not as regular. ZGBTST’s fundraisers and donations are how it survives and 100% of all donations are contributed back to the community, we have no staff on any payroll and everyone is a volunteer within the Trust which is something we are incredibly proud of. We are now in the process of launching our Movember campaign to raise awareness of men’s mental health struggles and our craft workshop has been working hard making new items for our online shop which can be found at www.zacharygeddisbreakthesilencetrust.org

On a brighter note, ZGBTST has also announced a series of workshops that are taking place in November and December. Mental health issues are at a peak and with government funding at its worst we will see many people suffer throughout the festive period and beyond. ZGBTST developed these workshops to increase the knowledge and further educate members of the community on how they can assist their loved ones and what next steps to take in accessing the help that they need. We are operating the workshops both online and in person to be able to accommodate for everyone and pre booking is necessary via email. More details are on our Facebook Page. 

As we move into November, we must remember to stick together and be there for one another, if anyone is in need of any assistance, ZGBTST has a helpline which operates daily, crisis intervention 24/7 and drop in slots to plan your next steps towards a more positive mindset and wellbeing. 

My lines of communication are always open, you can find me at any of the links below at any time. 

& Always remember, 

                           You Matter 


Entry 12

Hello everyone! 

                        December is here and what a year 2020 has been. I can only speak for myself, however outside of a global pandemic bringing in the next year is something I am looking forward too. Reflecting on the past year has brought back many proud moments that ZGBTST has had, we were able to adapt to the government restrictions in March very fast which enabled us to continue to assist the community in as many ways as possible whilst keeping the community safe. We opened all 3 of our premises throughout the year which was a huge goal for us to continue to expand even when times were hard, many fundraisers were cancelled and our campaign win for Caffe Nero was postponed until 2021. However, we made it through with the help of all of our supporters and the local community. 

December brings a welcomed month of cheer for many, when warm winter nights with family gives us a reason to look forward to the incoming weeks, Santa makes an appearance and we gather round our Christmas table to celebrate with the people we love. 

It wasn’t until I spent my first Christmas without Zachary that it dawned on me what hardship and sadness such an amazing season can also bring. At ages 20 and 24 myself and Zachary still laid treats for Santa, I returned home to the bedroom I grew up in, we attended Mass together as a family and settled into bed before 12 so my parents could lay our presents in the living room ready for us in the morning. My phone would ring close to 6am with messages from Zachary asking if it was a suitable time to go and make coffee to bring to my parents who were still asleep from their eventful night of present wrapping. 

All four of us would gather outside the living room door to excitedly open it to see what we have been gifted, comparing to see who got the most gifts, hugging each other and watching my Dad scramble round the living room catching the wrapping paper and my Mum complaining about how she didn’t get enough. 

Now, we wake up on Christmas morning to serve the community who feel the way we do, which is lost. All that remain are memories of happy times, no trees, Christmas music or a family dinner with one seat unattended, I wonder if in time it will ever feel happy again.

One thing that I have learnt about Christmas since Zachary died is that we are not alone in how we feel, so every year we dedicate our Christmas to others so we can be together, and no one needs to be alone. 

This year is no different, we will open our doors to our beautiful Coleraine Workshop at 28 Long Commons to assist with the vulnerable and isolated members of our community in hopes to lighten the burden of Christmas sadness. 2020 has brought many changes and unlike previous years we cannot host a normal drop in, but we have decided to create food packages for the community and appointment spaces to attend the workshop to speak to someone if you are in need of support. 

We are proud to be there for people from 24th – 26th December 9am – 9pm and we are taking food donations from anyone who wishes to support our initiative. 

If you wish to book to receive a food package, obtain support or donate you can do so by calling or texting: 07934187147 

Christmas is a time for family, memories and looking out for one another. If you think someone you know might be in need of support, we can also deliver their food package straight to their door.

My lines of communication are always open, you can find me at any of the links below at any time. 

& Always remember, 

                           You Matter