James and Heidi’s story started some years ago through the
world of rugby and the family-like connections
the world of sport creates
(Heidi and James’ wife, also aptly named Heidi, played rugby together for a number of years).
In 2018, Heidi approached James to launch a mental health programme at Bristol Bears Women,
knowing that James had started his
re-qualification to become a Counsellor.
The programme was set up in memory of club player, Jen*,
who sadly took her own life in 2017.
Jen openly struggled with mental health issues throughout her life
and her honesty about how it impacted her life
opened the eyes of all those around her.
She taught everyone that it was ok not to be ok.
The programme was named after Jen’s dog, Ripple,
and the principle that mental health ‘ripples’
into all aspects of your life.
Soon the confidential service, spearheaded by James,
was providing a lifeline to many players and staff across the club. The service allowed members to discuss issues
such as anxiety, relationships, stress, depression,
financial issues, education pressures, injury,
day to day worries and any issues that were affecting them.
Ripples grew from strength to strength
supporting in excess of 70 individuals across a space of four years.
Ripples has now truly achieved its original ‘ripple’ effect
with the launch of Ripples Wellbeing
where Counselling, Mental Health First Aid (MHFA),
Workplace Wellbeing and Live and Learn event speaking
has been added to the services provided.
*Permission from Jen's family has been sought in order to use her name and the part she played in our story