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Mental health event for young people in Gorleston and Hopton after disappearance of student Sophie Smith

PUBLISHED: 10:05 15 April 2018 | UPDATED: 10:05 15 April 2018

A volunteer-led search for missing Sophie Smith in Gorleston and inset a picture issued by the police of the 21-year-old. Photo: Antony Kelly/Norfolk Police

A volunteer-led search for missing Sophie Smith in Gorleston and inset a picture issued by the police of the 21-year-old. Photo: Antony Kelly/Norfolk Police

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The father of missing student Sophie Smith will speak at a mental health awareness event organised for young people in Gorleston and Hopton.

Sophie Smith's family appealing for her safe return at the time of her disappearance. Left to right, Rebecca Russell (aunt), Martin Knowles (father) and Sarah Knowles (sister).
Picture: ANTONY KELLYSophie Smith's family appealing for her safe return at the time of her disappearance. Left to right, Rebecca Russell (aunt), Martin Knowles (father) and Sarah Knowles (sister). Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Martin Knowles will be joined by 15-year-old Jessica Jones from Gorleston who will talk about her experiences of suffering with anxiety and how she found help.

The event on Tuesday (April 17) at Cliff Park Junior School, in Gorleston is for young people under 25 to give them and their parents an insight into what local organisations, such as Mind and Pathways in Lowestoft can offer in terms of advice, counselling and referral.

The idea came from the Gorleston-based Central Health Centre Patient Participation Group and once it had gathered enough interest from organisations it enlisted the Gorleston Medical Centre and Hopton Surgery Patient Participant Group to help organise it.

Tina Cleveland, chairman of the Central Health Centre group, said Miss Smith’s disappearance on Boxing Day had focussed hearts and minds on the important issue of mental health.

A Vigil for the peace of Sophie Smith who went missing on Boxing Day was held at Norwich Cathedral.
Picture: Nick ButcherA Vigil for the peace of Sophie Smith who went missing on Boxing Day was held at Norwich Cathedral. Picture: Nick Butcher

She said: “It is quite apparent that this is a big issue. This is just as much for parents.

“We all want the best for our children and we want to know where we can get the help.

“When it first hits you that your child has got a problem you feel helpless because you do not know what to do.

“A lot of the time people think they are on their own but they are not, and it became clear to me that people struggle to know where to go.

Tina Cleveland, chairman of the Central Healthcare Centre Patient Participation Group
Picture supplied by Tina ClevelandTina Cleveland, chairman of the Central Healthcare Centre Patient Participation Group Picture supplied by Tina Cleveland

“Because there are so many organisations it is quite complex and bewildering at a time when people really do need something simple.

“It is basically sign-posting people.”

The event will be staged in two halves from 7-9pm with a range of speakers first.

Afterwards there will be a chance to visit some 13 stands and find out about what various organisations do and to join some meditation sessions.

The event is only open to patients from the three health centres involved,

Sophie Smith, 21, was last seen leaving her home in Avondale Road, Gorleston, in the early hours of Boxing Day last year, prompting extensive searches and a huge community response.

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