A heart-broken Manchester mum whose 17-year-old daughter committed suicide after being arrested for minor offences has walked 190 miles for the charity that helped her through her ‘darkest days’.
Martina Brincat-Baines, 36, took on the challenge of walking coast to coast from St Bees to Robin Hood’s Bay for the charity Survivors of Bereavement by Suicide (SOBS) – whose support she claims saved her life.
Martina’s daughter Kesia Leatherbarrow was arrested by Greater Manchester Police on suspicion of criminal damage and possession of class B drugs at an incident in Hyde.
But she was found dead in Dunkinfield on December 3 – just a day after appearing in court.
And in the wake of the tragedy, it was the charity SOBS that came to the rescue for her mum Martina.
“Without the support they offered, I probably wouldn’t be here now, that’s the bottom line,” she told MM.
“They have helped absolutely tremendously, as far as I know I don’t think that there are any charities really that help in such a significant and specialised way in terms of bereavement.
“We didn’t just want to raise money, we wanted to raise awareness. They are and were incredibly supportive; you don’t understand it unless you’ve been through it.”
HAPPIER TIMES: Martina says Kesia was ‘incredibly talented’
Now Martina is hoping to repay the charity for the help they offered and was aiming to raise £500 by her coast to coast walk. Instead, she smashed her target and raised almost £1,500.
“The walk was hard work but it was very rewarding,” she said.
“It’s absolutely brilliant that we were able to raise so much too. Everyone’s been so generous, we’ve done exceptionally well, we’ve done it for the Yorkshire three peaks, and we tripled that one too.”
Martina is incredibly proud of Kesia, who was the former UK accordion champion.
“She was incredibly talented,” she said. “She was outgoing, she was full of personality and she was beautiful.
“I’m so glad I went to SOBS because people are worried about the social stigma attached to suicide and people tend to close off and don’t think about it, whereas there is help out there SOBS are absolutely brilliant.
“They provide, group sessions, retreats, counselling that help you to realise that you’re not alone.”
TALENTED: Kesia was the former UK accordion champion
Had Kesia been 16, she could have been moved overnight to local authority care after her arrest rather than spending nights in the cells.
There she could have been assessed and cared for as a young person, but instead since she was 17 she was kept in a police cell like an adult.
Her mother said: “I want all under 18s to be treated as children in police custody.
“I want to see children not kept in police custody with mental health issues and that the police can access mental health records.”
Like that of Kesia, two other teens have died in the past three years due to suicide in similar circumstances, Eddie Thornber and Joe Lawton.
Martina wants the money raised to help families like the Thornbers and Lawtons and the charity SOBS.
She said: “I would like it to be used to help people in similar situations, there’s not much support out there.
“Please help us to support such an essential and caring charity and remember our beautiful angel daughter Kesia Leatherbarrow.”
Martina is now hoping that she will climb Mount Kilimanjaro in the future for the charity.
You can still donate here https://www.justgiving.com/martina-brincat
You can get in touch with SOBS here: http://uk-sobs.org.uk/
Images courtesy of Martina Brincat-Baines, with thanks.