Sunderland teenager whose work helped save six lives on Wearmouth Bridge is praised by leading police officer
A teenager who has helped people in need by tagging the Wearmouth Bridge with messages of support has been praised by top city cops.
Paige Hunter, from Plains Farm, pinned more than 40 notes to the bridge, offering kind words and advice to those feeling vulnerable.
The 18-year-old has been hailed by people across the North East for her efforts, and says she has been told they may have helped save six lives already.
The East Durham College student, who is taking a health and social care course at its Peterlee campus, has been presented with a framed commendation certificate by Chief Superintendent Sarah Pitt after the neighbourhood team responsible for the city centre championed the idea.
Chief Supt Pitt said: “It goes to recognise her understanding of vulnerable people in need of support and the innovative way used to get to people going through a trauma.
“For somebody so young, that’s a really good value to have and for us and mental health teams across the board it could mean they access what they need and recognise there are options for them and to support them as they go through life circumstances.”
“There used to be a stigma around this, but now it’s very much accepted that when your brain goes through an injury or is struggling, it’s fine to get support.
“I think Paige is a real inspiration and hopefully an inspiration to others.
“She’s made a difference.”
Chief Supt Pitt added the force is working with the city’s council, NHS and other services as it looks at ways to best help those facing mental health issues.
Paige, who has returned to the bridge in recent days to add more notes, said she is now thinking about a career in mental health.
The sales assistant, who works at Poundworld, said: “I wasn’t really doing this for an award, this was just something I wanted to do.
“My family are just proud of me and I’m going to put it up on the wall.
“I just want to help people and I’ve been told it’s already helped save six lives.”
Paige’s mum Tina Harfield, 45, who also works as a sales assistant, said: “I’m extremely proud of her.
“We were going into town and she had said to me ‘We’re going to the bridge’ and I’d asked, what are we going to the bridge for? and she’s said she wanted to put up the notes all along to help people like her.
“I was brought to tears reading some of them.
“A woman even stopped us as we were doing it and was crying. “I couldn’t believe the reaction - we though she might even get wrong for putting them up, but I’m glad for her.
“It’s been amazing to read some of the things people have said and I’m over the moon for her.
“I think people don’t speak about their mental health because there’s a stigma.
“But I think people need to reach out and talk about it because it might seem like the end and they feel bad, and I know it’s a dark time, but there is help.
“It does affect their families too.”