Crisis helpline launches in Inverness

A new ‘text-for-help’ hotline has been launched in the Highlands in memory of two friends who died just days apart.

Michael Williamson and Martin Shaw, both centre top and bottom

The mobile phone text message based service has been called Mikeysline after one of the 23-year-olds.

Construction worker Martin Shawwas found dead in his home in Inverness in early October.

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His close friend barman Michael ‘Mikey’ Williamson was found dead during the same weekend in his own home. He had returned from a night out celebrating the life of Mr Shaw.

It is feared both young men took their own lives.

The helpline has been organised by Jamie-Lyn McBride, 25, a friend of both men, and Michael’s uncle Ron Williamson.

They hope the service will be a legacy to both Mikey, who was a barman at city pub Weatherspoons, and Martin, better known as ‘Porky’, who worked in the construction industry.

Mr Williamon said the text-for-help hotline was for young people who are feeling alone and need to reach out.

He added: “I want Mikeysline to be about showing people do care, even total strangers. Christmas and New Year are a party time for most people but for a few people it is the loneliest time.

“The hope is to tell young people who have been bullied, are self-harming, have personal issues, or who are depressed, that people do care.

“There is so much depression which covers such a huge spectrum.”

He said the service was in addition to other existing helplines, adding: “It is for people who are on the edge, or on the brink.”

Mr Williamson said the process of sending a text and receiving a reply would hopefully be a distraction for whatever is on the caller’s mind.

Jamie-Lyn said the thinking behind a text-for-help service was that it has been found that when people facing a crisis in their life phone a helpline, they often hang up when they hear a voice on the other end.

With text, it will be much easier to make a friendly contact.

She said: “One in fouor people who telephones a crisis line end up hanging up when they hear someone’s voice.

“It is a lot easier for people to text these days.

“This service is about being there for the person who texts and being able to provide some form of support for them. It will provide someone to help them through tough times.”

A small team of volunteers will staff the line between 7pm and 7am between Friday evening and Monday morning.

Family and friends have raised over £2,000 to enable volunteers to go on training courses.

Mikeysline is available by texting 07779 303303.