By Rebecca Hannant
Ruben’s Voice is gearing up for its annual concert in Hedon later this month.
Katy Smith founded the non-profit organisation in 2021 after her eldest son Ruben Ferrol took his own life aged just 18.
Following his death, his friends organised an online collection and raised £3,000. The money was used to buy a picnic table which was placed in one of Ruben’s favourite places in Hedon. The rest of the money went towards a party to celebrate his life.
More money was raised which was used to pay for a professional stage with sound and lighting equipment. Mental health charities, support groups and local activities were also invited to raise awareness of suicide and provide help to anyone struggling with their mental health.
The concert, which was later named Ruben’s Voice, has now become a popular annual event with many people coming together to raise awareness of mental health and suicide.
Katy said: “The idea was difficult to start, but so very important conversations might never be discussed without something like a concert to attract everyone’s attention.
“At Ruben’s Voice 2021, we raised some more money, and people started suggesting ideas
for next year, so somehow Ruben’s Voice has become an annual event involving the whole community.”
Each year, it costs a lot of money to stage the concert, so the organisation has come up with a range of challenges to help raise money and awareness. These include the Million Steps Challenge, 18 Miles for 18 Years walk, a boxing event, Bringing Light to the Darkness walk, a Halloween psychic night, Christmas Worry Monster Adoption Day, and Climb a Mountain for Mental Health.
The third Ruben’s Voice live music event on Saturday, August 19, on the Hedon Primary School field from 1pm to 10pm, will feature performers such as Starlight Arts, Charlotte Lammiman and Pablo Carizzo among many more. Mental health organisations will be at the event to provide signposting to the help available, and there will also be inspirational speakers, a bar, food, stalls, football, a raffle and children’s activities. Admission is free.
The organisation is also in the process of setting up a community wellbeing hub to provide young people with a fun and safe place to be themselves. So far, they have leased a derelict football field in Drapers Lane and in recent weeks, volunteers have worked hard to revamp the area by cutting back the overgrown weeds and grass.
They have also been given some full-sized goalposts which will be installed in due course.
As part of their community engagement, they have also been given a new modular building to use as their new wellbeing hub. The modular building has been purchased on the group’s behalf by Centrica, which will be providing two qualified electricians to have everything installed and safety checked. HFR Solutions has also donated fire safety checks, risks assessments and fire extinguishers.
Ground works are also being donated to locate water, electricity and sewage connections, and a suitable base will be built for the site to allow the building to stand safely.
Despite receiving some negative comments, the community has come together to support the beginnings of the new site.
Katy added: “The Ruben’s Voice community wellbeing hub will be open to everyone, staffed by volunteers from our local community and paid for by our fundraising efforts. We are hoping to organise lots of activities for all groups of our community, to bring people together, bridge the gaps between different groups and different generations and improve wellbeing and alleviate loneliness for everyone.
“We have lots of support from our community and from local businesses who are all keen to
be part of such a special project. I hope that by working together we can really make a difference for anyone who needs us. I hope you’ll join us to enjoy the beautiful space.”
To meet the requirements of the surrounding areas, the building has been painted with a base coat of pale grey. However, to make the space vibrant and welcoming, the community has been invited to design murals to place on the back of the building.
If you would like to join in, send a photo of your design to [email protected] or via Messenger to the Ruben’s Voice Facebook page. You can also hand them to the team at the main Ruben’s Voice event on August 19.
The entries will be posted on the Ruben’s Voice Facebook page on Sunday, August 20. The eight with the most votes will be invited to paint their mural on a panel. Entries can be submitted individually or as a group.