Lanarkshire charity has survived some tough times and is ready to celebrate its achievements

A North Lanarkshire-based charity that provides adults and children with vital mental health support is marking its eighth year with a special event at the end of the month.

FAMS (Families Affected by Murder and Suicide) will be holding an open day at its base at Paul Gerard’s Lighthouse in Motherwell.

FAMS co-founder Ann Marie Cocozza told Lanarkshire Live: “It’s actually nine years since we started up, but we now been a Scottish registered charity for eight years.

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“We’ve done so much during that time, with petitions and walks and everything else. We are going to showcase it all, as I don’t think we even realise how much work we have done since the start.

“We’re going to have to dig it all up. It’s unbelievable the work we’ve done in that time and the accolades we’ve had, people telling their stories of recovery and all sorts of stuff.”

FAMS was founded after two grieving mums who lost their sons, Meg McCloy and Roslyn McGilvray, met up. Steven McCloy, died through suicide aged just 17 after being the victim of bullying.

Paul Gerard McGilvray, Ann Marie’s nephew, was only 20 when he was murdered.

Sisters Roslyn McGilvray (left) and Ann Marie Cocozza of FAMS with Andrew Rundle
(Image: Hamilton Advertiser)

The charity was formed and has gone on to do great things since that initial meeting of two ordinary women grieving the senseless loss of their boys.

“This place was built on love, it was built on our love – me and my sister’s.

“And everyone that has come in here has been shown love,” said Ann Marie.

The open day will not only highlight the successful work FAMS has done in the past but where they are currently and what they can offer now.

Ann Marie Cocozza speaking at a Suicide Prevention summit in 2020
(Image: Wishaw Press)

“We’ve had a big recruitment drive which was very successful and we also want to highlight the training courses we have coming up,” Ann Marie continued.

“We’ve gone through the Befriending Network, a national certificated course, and we’ll be running courses on befriending, and how to offer counselling and support to people who are grieving.

“The volunteers will learn how to deal with different types and stages of grief and what to expect.”

Weekly events at Paul Gerard’s Lighthouse include; Tai Chi, Lived Experience Peer Support, Wellbeing Wednesdays, a StressLess Cafe, and family social events.

FAMS survived tough times through Covid and their base was flooded leaving them homeless for months
(Image: Wishaw Press)

The Wellbeing Wednesday sessions help people deal with stress and anxiety using different techniques, including Chinese acupressure and herbal medicines.

“There’s a whole lot going on,” Ann Marie added. “We’ve been offering mental health and wellbeing, we have a youth and children’s group, a men’s group, a music group.

“James McCourt a personal development coach from Wishaw has been doing courses for us as well – he is very good. He’s been doing sessions on the grief cycle and recovery, and understanding relationships and, most importantly, yourself.”

Ann Marie hopes to retire and pass her work on to someone else’s capable hands, sooner rather than later, but letting go of the reins isn’t that easy when you’ve a personal attachment to the work you do.

Ann Marie Cocozza with Clare Adamson MSP at FAMS event Let’s Walk and Talk About Mental Health
(Image: FAMS)

“We still don’t have any funding in place to replace me, but I definitely want to retire and spend more time with my granddaughter.

“We’ve been through some tough times in recent years but the important thing is we’ve survived it. I always used to say to people; keep an open mind, trust the process, and trust me.

“You’ve always got to concentrate on the positives.”

The afternoon event will take place at the FAMS base in Orbiston Street, Motherwell on Wednesday, November 30 from 2pm to 5pm.

For more info, head online.

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Daily Record – Motherwell