NSPA Conference: Reflections and learnings from the Storm Skills Training team

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This year the NSPA conference brought the suicide prevention community face to face for the first time in three years. 

The conference is always an important date in the Storm Skills Training calendar, and three of our wonderful team were among those who came together to learn share and connect; Bianca Romanyk (CEO), Keith Waters (Director) and Becky Jagodzinski (Research and Evaluation Coordinator). We asked them to tell us their thoughts on this year’s conference….

The conference brought us back together in person!

Since moving to the UK seven years ago, Bianca has attended the NSPA conference every year. She told us how lovely it was to be back amongst all the people:

"It was great to meet Rosie Ellis the new NSPA Lived Experience Officer, and I’m very happy to know that our success at Storm Skills Training has helped the role come to fruition.

Also meeting Jess Worner (NSPA Lived Experience Network Manager) and Shilla Patel (who is a member of the NSPA’s Lived Experience Network and our Product Review Steering Group) in person were highlights for me personally.

It was a wonderful and inspiring day – well done to the NSPA team!”"

Bianca Romanyk CEO, Storm Skills Training

    For Keith, there were mixed emotions. He told us how much of a pleasure it was to meet up with friends and colleagues he worked with before as a member of the NSPA steering group and planning previous conferences. And although a little sad to no longer be an active part of the conference, he was so pleased to see the further growth and progress that both the NSPA and the conference itself have made over the past few years.

    “This conference for me was the first conference since the pandemic so initially this was tinged with a little bit of anxiety in getting out again travelling to London and sharing the space with so many people. The pleasure in meeting people and some very fond “friends” was lovely, as was the long lost experience of shaking hands and the occasional hug. Inevitably due to the subject matter, it was sad to meet new people who have more recently become involved with suicide prevention work due to their personal losses, however, the power of their stories, the drive and passion that they evoke and their optimism for helping in the future was very inspirational.”

    Keith Waters Director, Storm Skills Training
      Learning from the community to further enrich our training package for our customers

      With the launch of our new Version 5 training package inching ever closer, we were very eager to hear any developments and ideas that were relevant to our training. It was reassuring to see just how well the adjustments to our training package are in line with the information that was shared at the conference – and it made us realise that this update really is coming at the right time!

      “From a Storm perspective my antenna were twitching and my ears flapping in relation to thoughts ideas and developments that are pertinent to our Version 5 update work. What was very pleasing and reassuring was my perception of how well the adjustments that we're making in Version 5 match the understanding and body of knowledge that was shared at the conference. There were no major shocks or worries about anything we have included or missed, and this gave me reassurance and the feeling that we are on the right track but also that the update is needed.”

      Keith Waters Director, Storm Skills Training

        Professor Louis Appleby’s plenary touched on the use of risk assessment tools and scales. The recently published NICE guidelines strongly advise against the use of these tools to predict self-harm or suicide, but Professor Appleby noted that unvalidated tools are still in wide use in clinical practice. This is something we address in detail in Version 5 and it’s really good to know that the content of our training supports best practice so well.



        Becky told us she was pleased to see the parallels between her own work and the topics raised by Professor Appleby;


        “One of the things he noted was the concerning rise in suicide rates among children and young people aged 15-19 (particularly young girls), and highlighted the role of alcohol/drugs, academic pressure, and suicide-related internet use. This aligns closely with the research I've been doing while developing Version 5 of our training.”

        Becky Jagodzinski Research and Evaluation Coordinator, Storm Skills Training

          NSPA Lived Experience Influencer Sue Wilgoss talked about suicide prevention in the autistic community – this was informative and deeply moving. The relationship between neurodivergence (especially autism and ADHD) and suicide and self-harm, particularly in relation to the effect of late or misdiagnosis on mental health is something that Becky has a keen interest in and is researching with an aim for us to provide our training participants with up-to-date evidence based information to best support minority groups at risk of self-harm and suicide including autistic people.

          Suicide-related internet use and online safety were also explored in more detail in a talk by Samaritans. It was interesting to note that many young people are not asked about their online behaviours by professionals, and that many would like more help and support in this area. Importantly, Samaritans advocated for an open-minded, personalised approach to asking about online safety – which aligns perfectly with Storm Skills Training’s guidance about person-centred care.

          Presentations and resources

          The conference had some very engaging workshops that focused on reaching people in diverse communities and contexts, including people from Traveller or LGBTQ+ communities, people who experience domestic abuse, and in different contexts across primary care and the criminal justice system.

          The presentations are now available to download from the NSPA website – there are some really fantastic resources so we encourage you to have a browse!

          Thank you NSPA!

          Thanks again to the wonderful NSPA team for organising such an informative, inspiring and engaging conference. Well done to everyone involved in making it such a success – we’ll look forward to seeing you at the next one!

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