New plan to make South Shields cliffs safer

Police, Fire and Coastguard crews at Marsden Bay
Police, Fire and Coastguard crews at Marsden Bay

A potentially lifesaving idea to stop people falling from the cliffs in South Tyneside has moved up a gear.

Cliff Angels - a support group to help vulnerable people - has so far attracted 3,600 members and wanted a hut to be built on cliffs near Marsden, South Shields.

Kirk Wilson

Kirk Wilson

The man behind the idea, Kirk Wilson, wanted the haven to be staffed by volunteers to offer help and advice to people in need.

After a meeting with council officials and The National Trust, which owns the land, the father-of-two have decided a mobile bus could be the solution.

The aim is for vehicle to be parked up on the coast at night and during the day it could be used to promote safety advice in schools and the town centre.

Mr Wilson from South Shields, said: “The council officers wished us all the luck and are looking to get us permission to use the car park.

“Once trained, we can go anywhere in town - including colleges and schools - offering advice and support on mental health.”

The group’s main aim now is to raise enough cash to be able to buy the bus.

It is estimated this could cost £10,000 to £20,000.

Mr Wilson added: “It’s now all about fundraising. We have a few events lined up so we’re hoping they will be a success and help us to achieve our goal.”

Coun Tracey Dixon, lead member for independence and wellbeing at South Tyneside Council, said: “A number of council officers and partners met with Cliff Angels representatives and a range of ideas were explored.

“As part of the council’s whole-community approach to suicide prevention we are committed to working with communities, groups, mental health services and individuals to tackle this issue.

“It is clear from the meeting that many local people feel deeply about this issue and want to play a role in preventing further tragedies.” She added: “We will help this group get the support they need to either become established as a formal voluntary sector organisation or to join existing charities who already play a vital role in suicide prevention.”