4th March 2018 is a date that Olivia Bartlett will never forget.
It was the date that the then-17 year old took what she thought would be her last step, as she leapt off a bridge over a major road in Stockport and plunged 40ft to the ground in an attempt to end her own life.
But unlike the five others who’d jumped from the very same spot before her that week, Olivia survived.
The former trainee hairdresser from Gorton suffered a catalogue of horrific injuries from her fall – including serious damage to her head and spine, along with 15 other broken bones – and underwent two operations at Salford Royal, leaving her bed-bound for two weeks, before being subsequently diagnosed with bipolar disorder, anxiety and depression, and spending three months in a specialist facility to improve her mental health.
The hospital staff told her it was “a miracle” she was still alive.
“[Struggles with] my mental health started at a young age, but I didn’t want anyone to know what I was going though daily.” Olivia told us.
“It was a battle everyday, especially with the thoughts I was getting [and] I was just so embarrassed [that] I didn’t tell anyone, [nor did I] understand why I even felt the way I did,
“I didn’t even understand about mental health then.”
Olivia admits that her life “changed dramatically” after that day, and she has sadly suffered both short-term and long-term effects from the incident, ranging from apprehensions and embarrassment about going outside and re-integrating back into society shortly after being discharged from hospital due to “[having] all my hair shaved, as my head injuries were really bad to the point [that] you could see my skull”, to suffering with long term back pain – which makes walking and standing a challenge – the devastating decision to give up her job as a result of injuries, and even the loss of “a lot of friends and social circle”, who she believed just did not understand how to handle the severity of her mental health struggles and diagnosis’.
In December 2019, she also suffered the devastating loss of her uncle Paul to suicide, which she said “broke me, as he [had] seen everything I went through [and] was married [with] two children”.
And it was then that she just knew she “didn’t want anyone else to go through what I had”.
Nowadays, Olivia – 21, who’s family and boyfriend of three years are supporting her “every step of the way” – is keen to advocate that “mental health matters” and that it should be prioritised just as much as our physical health, and it was this very urgency to promote better care that saw her story go viral on social media last year.
Olivia goes back to that same bridge as much as she can, but not to jump – to stop others from doing so.
She does this by regularly decorating the bridge with handwritten messages of support, words of encouragement, and vital contact numbers for anyone who may find themselves in the same position as she did all those years prior, in the hopes of proving that “better days will come”.
It was an act that, once shared to Facebook, saw her receive widespread support from all across the globe, with messages from strangers still coming in to this day.
The viral post also miraculously reunited her with the man who she credits with “saving my life”.
Olivia continued: “During my recovery, I learned so much about mental health… [and] I thought I needed to do more to make sure people never feel like this again, [so] now I go to the bridge I jumped off to put notes and try and keep up with it as much as I can.
“If it stops just one person from doing [what I did], it would mean the world to me – I just want to help others [and] no family should go through what mine did”.
“I try to do everything I can for mental health, but sometimes I feel like I’m not doing enough,” Olivia admitted.
“I want to do more as it’s very important to me [and] mental health will always be a part of my life, so now that I have learnt how to deal with it, I want to help everyone I can.
“No one should feel like this, and some people just need help dealing with their mental health issues”.
Olivia also expressed some concerns with the level of after-care she received following the incident, which she is keen to rectify, explaining that: “The hospitals didn’t do anything with me after, no talks, no therapy – I had to make myself better, but some people aren’t as strong to think like that.
“There’s not enough help for mental health and it’s so upsetting to see, but if my story gets out there, it might help others”.
As part of her reflection process, nearly four years after the attempt to take her own life, Olivia has now realised the importance of speaking out, especially after coming up against several negative comments as a response to her social media posts.
“I want to tell everyone that things do get better and so will you.” she said.
‘I’m living proof of that, and it’s okay not to be ok, and mental health is normal [so] don’t worry that you are different to others. Try your hardest to be positive, even though it is so hard to do, and remember that there are people out there that love you.
“I also want to say to everyone to please just please be kind.
“I have had a lot of negative comments saying lots of sick things, but if I wasn’t as strong as I am, that could have broken me and I could do it again, so please just be kind [because] you could say horrible things to the wrong person someday, and you would be the reason they’re not here anymore.
“Most of all, I just want to tell everyone to stay strong”.
If you or anyone you know is struggling right now, please know that you are never alone and there are many different places you can reach out to for support right here in Greater Manchester.
Suffering in silence never need be the way.
Manchester Mind – An organisation that has supported people in Manchester for over 30 years. Most services are now available over the phone, by email or video call. The number is 0161 769 5732 and the opening hours are Mon – Fri 10am – 2pm.
Andy’s Man Club – A group dedicated to starting conversations about mental health, assuring people that it’s ok to talk. You can contact them by email on: [email protected]
CALM – The Campaign Against Living Miserably supports people via phone and webchat. You can call 0800 58 58 58 or speak to a support worker online. Open 5pm to midnight.
Samaritans – The Manchester & Salford Samaritans offer emotional support by telephone and email. The phone lines and email support are available 24/7. Call 116 123 or visit the website.
The Manc Group is also here to help too.
There are real people behind our platforms, and our DMs are always open, so we encourage you to drop us a message should you ever need a chat and we will be more than happy to help point you in the right direction towards the best help possible.
We got this, Manchester.
The award-winning cocktail bar hidden beneath the old Coronation Street cobbles
Unbeknownst to many, there is an award-winning cocktail bar hidden beneath Coronation Street‘s original cobbles serving up some of the best drinks in the city.
Recently named ‘one to watch’ at the UK’s Top 50 Bar awards 2023, Project Halcyon has also just won the Best New Bar award – voted for by a community of some 17,000 hospitality staff at this month’s Manchester Bar Awards (MBAs).
Brought to Manchester by the team behind Zymogorium distillery, it originally opened in early 2020 – launching just weeks before the Covid 19 pandemic hit.
Like many other operators, the secret speakeasy – which is connected to the working distillery for Manchester gin makers Zymogorium – closed its doors during lockdown, then quietly relaunched in late October last year beneath Old Granada Studios.
Since reopening, it’s been flooded with accolades. General Manager Adam has just been named amongst the UK’s top 100 bartenders by World Class UK, whilst house bartender Reah Owen recently won the Rising Star award at the MBAs.
And yet, somehow, it’s still managing to fly under the radar as one of Manchester’s best-kept secrets – although, considering all the awards the team is winning, we expect this won’t remain the case for long.
The bar is something of a labyrinth with numerous corners to explore within its underground warren. As well as housing a large bar at its entrance, it’s also home to a dedicated absinthe parlour, Salon Vert, which has been painted to look like a woodland scene and features vintage crystal absinthe fountains.
Elsewhere, there’s a still room and laboratory where the team uses chemistry equipment to create all the insane ingredients that go into their cocktails.
Add to this a self-playing grand piano and a rare collection of expensive spirits, and it’s safe to say Project Halcyon is very much up there with the city centre’s best cocktail bars.
As for its current drinks menu, open it up and you’ll discover that each signature cocktail is accompanied by a stunning illustration of a rare bird.
Choices include ‘Fourteen Days’, a long, tart drink that nods to the Halcyon days of Ancient Greece, and ‘Phoenix Down’, a smoky combination of smoky, nutty bourbon with bitter back notes that symbolises rebirth and eternal life.
Elsewhere on the list, you’ll find the brilliantly-named cocktails ‘Act of Vanity’, a combination of melon liqueur, blueberry and Veuve Cliquot champagne, and ‘Murder of Crows’, a moody and short mix of spiced spirits that promises to be both dark and funky.
The bar also serves up a list of six house classics, all of which are prebatched, prediluted and kept at -14 degrees ready to be poured at your table. Interestingly, though, because the drinks are already kept at the right temperature they aren’t diluted with water but rather with a variety of house-made concoctions.
General Manager Adam told The Manc that the most famous of these is the house vodka martini, made with Boatyard vodka, Cocchi Americano vermouth and clarified banana juice as the dilute.
“It makes for this insanely creamy, flavourful martini that’s classic but approachable,” he said, adding: “Our approach to the bar is that the science is for us to worry about, the hospitality is for the guests.
“We don’t put all this crazy techy stuff at the forefront of what we do. We prioritise good, classic, personal hospitality first and foremost.”
The bar also boasts a vast collection of rare and expensive spirits – and amongst the usual suspects, such as Louis XIII cognac, sit some interesting pieces like the latest seasonal release from Nc’nean and Elena Wright, the latter a close friend of the bar and an award-winning Manchester bartender.
It also serves up a strong selection of wines and beers, not to mention a cracking gin and tonic. Of course, being run by one of Manchester’s original craft gin distilleries, we’d expect nothing less.
Feature image – Project Halcyon
The Torrs Millennium Walkway – a stunning Peak District walk that hovers above a huge gorge
On first glance, New Mills may seem like any other Peak District town: small, picturesque with little-much-to-do. Venture just a few steps towards the River Sett, and you’ll find yourself in another landscape entirely.
Just below the hustle and bustle of the main shopping centre lies New Mill’s (not so) hidden gem – The Torrs Millennium Walkway.
Having done this route a few times, each time we’ve been amazed at the natural gorge that lies below.
The spectacular gritstone gorge was previously impassable to walkers, but the walkway built at the turn of the millennium, nicknamed the ‘steel spider’s web’, has transformed the dramatic landscape.
The Torrs Millennium Walkway is a 175-yard aerial walkway spanning the cliffsides above the River Goyt and River Sett, with links to many walking and cycling routes across the area.
If you’re new to the area, the heritage centre provides maps and guides for several nearby walks, including the iconic Kinder Trespass Trail.
Below, Getlostmcr has mapped out a couple of walking route options, one of which soaks in all the best bits of Stockport’s forgotten history.
And if you plan your walk to finish in New Mills, you can nip in to the dog-friendly, traditional local pub, The Pride of the Peaks, for a swift pint of Guinness by the real fire.
For those short on time, we recommend this route by Getlostmcr – a short, four-mile, out-and-back loop around the walkway and along the Sett Valley Trail. This route starts in the town of New Mills, easily reached via train or by car, with ample parking space at Market Street Carpark in the town centre.
And for those looking to get the extra steps in, why not extend the route by starting at nearby Marple?
History buffs, this one’s for you: Getlostmcr have mapped out a lengthier walk that takes in the best of Stockport’s forgotten history.
Starting from Marple, you’ll head towards The Roman Lakes, past the site of Mellor Mill Ruins: once a shining start of the Oldknow Empire. Back in its heyday, Mellor Mill was the biggest spinning mill the world had seen.
What remains of the site has since been taken over by the natural world, making a perfect pitstop on the first leg of your walk.
From here, you’ll make the ascent to Mellor Cross close to Cobden Edge. Mellor Cross was originally erected in 1970 by a group of local church goers who carried the individual pieces up the steep hill to ensure the cross overlooked the community.
Once you’ve marvelled at the size of this landmark, it’s time to head towards Mellor Moor where you’ll be rewarded with views right across the western edge of the Peak District and the Cheshire Plain.
The moor’s umpteen tracks date back to prehistoric Old Mercian trackways, said to be the route of monks and pilgrims way back when. Next, you’ll follow the trackways until you reach New Mills, where you can stop off to marvel at the walkway above. As for the return? That’s up to you!
You can follow Getlost’s out-and-back route here, or simply get the train back to either Piccadilly or the starting point in Marple if you drove down. For those following the half route, this is the link you need.
We parked in New Mills’ Market Street Carpark, £2 for 4 hours. 44 spaces.
New mills Carpark: Market Street, New Mills, High Peak, Derbyshire, SK22 4AA.
For those starting in Marple, there is ample free street parking near Hibbert Lane, SK6. There is also a carpark just off Hibbert Lane.
Marple carpark: Marple Memorial Park, Hibbert Lane, Stockport, SK6 6BD.
There are plenty of cafes in both New Mills and Marple. For those following the short loop from New Mills, Sett Valley Café is en route and have a 10/10 selection of homemade and vegan drinks and snacks.
We went to Pride of the Peaks in New Mills, but there are plenty to choose from in both New Mills and Marple, depending where you choose to start.
There are various options to suit different walking abilities. For those wanting to do the out and back from Marple, we’d recommend walking boots.
It’s also worth noting the ascent is all in one short stint so decent level of fitness is required. The short loop from New Mills is perfect for a Sunday dog walk.