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3 Questions with: Gill Green

Gill is Co-founder and Non-Executive Director of STORM®

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Get to know the suicide prevention community in three short questions.

Last year, STORM’s co-founder Gill Green stepped down as CEO, remaining an essential member of our Board. We caught up with her to see how life has been and what’s next for her...

Where did your STORM journey begin?

When I was nursing, so many of my patients often expressed that they felt so hopeless they thought about ending their life. And like many of my colleagues, I felt ill-equipped to respond in the right way. It was a dilemma that I wanted to address through skills training – to give fellow healthcare professionals the confidence and practice they needed to have those difficult conversations.

 

In 1997, it was a chance job advertisement in a national paper for a Trainer and Researcher that introduced me to STORM. At the time, I saw the 12-month project, working with Linda Gask at the University of Manchester, as an opportunity to learn new skills to take back to clinical practice. After the project, I stepped away for a few years, remaining in research but working with prisons on a different project. Research was definitely where I wanted to be.

 

I came back to the University of Manchester in 2003, to work alongside Linda Gask to develop the training package we now know as STORM.

You stepped down as CEO of STORM in April 2021. What’s been happening for you over the last year?

I’ve learned so much in my time at STORM and I’ve been incredibly fortunate to be able to use that to further something I am passionate about.

 

As a Christian and growing up gay, I came to a realisation that the Church was at odds with who I was becoming. I decided that I would no longer go to church after my confirmation. My ministry would be elsewhere, in helping others as much as I can. Through my work in suicide prevention, I was aware too of the pain and isolation people can feel when questioning their faith and sexuality.

 

I wandered along without a church for many years, until I saw that my local church in Didsbury was holding a Pride event in the Church gardens. I went along and spoke to the Reverend Nick Bundock about why they were hosting the event. They had clearly been on an extremely difficult journey after the death by suicide of a young girl from their church family. Lizzie Lowe was just 14 years old and before she died, she had been struggling to reconcile her faith and sexuality.

 

This was in 2018 so at the time I was still CEO of STORM. I offered to help by providing suicide prevention training to the clergy and others at the church and from that I was able to reconnect with my church family.

 

Interest in what St James & Emmanuel had done was phenomenal. Nick was inundated by enquiries from all around the world. We held a conference in 2019 and from that Church for Everyone was founded.

It sounds like you have been able to bring together everything you care about through Church for Everyone. What are your plans for the future?

There is still so much that we want to do with Church for Everyone. We are still at the seed stage, and slowly but surely, more churches from many denominations are coming together to share their stories just as we have done at Didsbury.

And it is about more than LGBTQ+ inclusion. We want to improve access and inclusion to churches for everyone: people with all types of disabilities, difficulties and neurodiversity, people with dementia, mental health problems, refugees and asylum seekers. It will take time, but I know that real change takes time. With issues like conversion therapy currently in the news, and the association with suicide, we know we need to do so much more.

 

Of course, I’m still on the STORM board too, so I’m looking forward to helping Bianca and her team to realise their vision for the future of STORM however I can.

Find out more about Church for Everyone

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