In the hushed stillness before dawn on Sunday, June 26, 2022, more than 500 people gathered at Vale Castle in Guernsey for the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) Walk of Hope. Spearheaded by Guernsey Mind and sponsored by RBC, the event raises awareness around mental health and suicide.

Over £22,500 was raised for Guernsey Mind , an independent charity whose mission and services include one-on-one therapeutic support as well as training in suicide awareness and prevention.

The walk began at 4 a.m. in darkness, following the symbolic path Guernsey Mind hopes those in suicide crisis will take – from the shadows and in loneliness into the light, surrounded by loved ones and a network of support.

Parents, grandparents, children, siblings and friends joined together in comfort, solidarity and reflection, to walk along the island's east coast. The event, which is meant to be an easy stroll and not a race, ended at La Valette Bathing Pools.

“We were once again amazed by how many people took part in the walk and the money it has raised,” says Maddy Diligent, Guernsey Mind's events and fundraising lead. “The significance of walking from darkness into the light of the rising sun with a group of supportive people around you is a path Guernsey Mind continue to emulate in the community, workplace and 1:1 work.”

The walk focusses specifically on suicide, with some participants wearing signs with the names of those they honoured and represented during the event.

“It's very much an awareness walk … We are trying to open up conversations about suicide," Diligent explains, noting how valuable it was for people to be able to meet and talk to others who have shared a similar experience.

“People who participated felt safe surrounded by others who had lost loved ones by suicide. It was emotional understandably, but people felt supported and heard. There was a realisation they aren't alone. That, in itself, is huge."

The money raised by the RBC Walk of Hope will be used for Guernsey Mind’s ongoing therapy service, as well as delivering suicide first aid certification.

“One suicide will affect 135 people on average" Diligent says. "This shows the importance of opening up conversations about suicide. That stat alone shows you the true impact of suicide on a community."

Guernsey Mind was approached by RBC at the beginning of 2022 with an offer to support the charity. For many employees, supporting Guernsey Mind was an easy choice. It was also personal, says Lisa Barnett, a Guernsey-based managing director for RBC Wealth Management. “Some of our team have used the charity themselves, having lost a loved one or knowing someone in need of its services.”

“RBC is committed to supporting programmes that help young people and families access the right care at the right time, so I was delighted to hear many positive and hopeful conversations on the walk and know this will go a long way towards breaking down the stigma of these topics which are often difficult to discuss,” says Barnett.

Find out more about RBC’s support for wellbeing initiatives.