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.
Unplugged – The stunning countryside cabin where guests are told to lock their phones away for a ‘digital detox’
We all know all-too-well that it’s becoming increasingly difficult to properly switch off – even when we’re on holiday.
With the constant pings and buzzes and flashes of digital technology begging for our attention every minute of the day, it’s not easy to properly step away and unwind.
Which is why the Unplugged countryside cabins were invented – and its first north west location has just opened.
Each of these stunning tiny homes includes a lock box, which guests are encouraged to lock their mobile phones in.
Over the course of each three-night stay, Unplugged guests are instead given other items to keep them entertained.
The Unplugged cabins include board games, books, and cassette players, as well as an instant camera with film so you can still capture your break – without the pressure to immediately shout about it on Instagram.
You’re also handed a classic Nokia phone (yes complete with Snake) in case you need to contact anyone, and a map and a compass.
They are also kitted out with a compact but fully equipped kitchen for cooking up a storm, a log burner and an outdoor fire pit, and comfy beds with luxury Piglet bedding.
There are several of these countryside retreats dotted around the south of England, and there’s now an Unplugged property here in the North West, just outside Greater Manchester in Cheshire.
The ‘Luna’ cabin has a huge panoramic window overlooking the countryside, and its location just off the Sandstone Trail.
The cabin is even pet-friendly.
You’ll find inside the compact wooden-clad space a powerful hot shower and toiletries, while outside are wellies and umbrellas to brace you for the great outdoors.
Unplugged was launched by two friends – Hector Hughes and Ben Elliot – who at the time both worked at a tech start-up and were teetering on the edge of burnout.
So after one of them took a two-week silent retreat in the Himalayas, they decided to try and create a few pockets of total, switch-off zen here in the UK.
They say: “Humans have always escaped to nature as an antidote to hectic city life. The issue is that now so many of us just wouldn’t know where to start.
“We’re glued to our phones, inundated with push notifications and respond to emails at all times of the day. We’re on a mission to help you unplug from your devices so that you can recharge.
“So we decided to build beautiful off-grid cabins just outside of city life that take less than an hour or two to get to.
“We also remove any of the woo-woo and stigma that might come with meditation and Buddhist retreats by creating beautiful cabins in nature for you to use the space and time to switch off how you want to.
“When we launched our first cabin, Koya in July 2020 we’d check in and out every guest, lock their phones away and take the key back with us to London. Now we have a lot more cabins, guests check themselves in and are encouraged to lock their phones away to benefit from 3 nights offline.
“We of course practice what we preach and all of the Unplugged team go for a digital detox at least once per year to help us switch off and recharge.”
You can book Luna, the Unplugged cabin in Cheshire, here.
Featured image: Pasco Photography
Neighbourhood Festival Manchester 2022 – tickets, line-up, venues and more
For those uninitiated, the massive city centre festival is Neighbourhood Weekender‘s sister event and has been running every October since 2016. Well, barring the pandemic, of course.
Springing from a fledgling one-day festival that boasted the likes of Circa Waves, Blossoms, White Lies, Twin Atlantic and Lonely the Brave, it has now become one of the biggest events of the year with over 100 acts spread across multiple venues dotted around the city centre. And just in time for the students.
Since its conception, crowds have seen everyone from Sam Fender, Easy Life and Holly Humberstone, to Mahalia, Declan McKenna, Miles Kane and many, many more of Britain’s biggest names take the Neighbourhood stages on their way to making a splash on the UK music scene.
Luckily for you, this year’s line-up looks an absolute whopper too.
Neighbourhood Festival Line-Up 2022
As well as those we already knew about such as The Snuts, Sundara Karama and local lads Everything Everything, Wigan-based indie band The Lathums have also confirmed that they will be joining the Neighbourhood headliners at this year’s festival.
You love to see it. You love to see everyone on this list, to be honest.
As you can see, there are big names everywhere – punters can also look forward to seeing the likes of Alfie Templeman and Baby Queen; Lauran Hibberd and Ten Tonnes, as well as Far Caspian and Brooke Combe, just to name a few.
There’s plenty of Mancunian music being represented as well, with Corella, Afflecks Palace, The Covasettes and The Stanleys all repping 0161.
Neighbourhood Festival 22 Venues
One of the best parts about Neighbourhood Fest is that aside from the acts themselves, there are some seriously mint venues on the list every year, from gig-going favourites to some locations you may have never seen live music before or even been full-stop.
Here is the full list of Neighbourhood venues we know of so far:
Manchester Academy 1 and 2 (14+)
Albert Hall (14+)
The Deaf Institute (14+)
O2 Ritz Manchester (14+)
Revolution – Oxford Road (14+ until 9pm, then 18+)
Bunny Jacksons (14+ until 9pm, then 18+)
YES – The Basement and The Pink Room (18+)
The Bread Shed (14+)
The Zombie Shack (18+)
That being said, it’s still worth keeping your eye out on social for any updates as more special guests and surprise appearances are expected, and who knows where they could pop up?
For instance, we already know that Hard-Fi will be playing their first gig in eight whole years at the brand-spanking New Century which we peeped not long ago. It’s quite an impressive space, guys.
Ah, the dreaded stage splits. They cause us inevitable headaches every year but they’re a necessary evil.
Want to know who’ll you manage to see and who’ll you have to prepare yourself for potentially missing? We do the dirty work so you don’t have to:
Are there any Neighbourhood tickets still left?
Put simply, yes, but you better get moving if you wanna snap the remaining few up.
Tickets for Neighbourhood Festival 2022 will set you back £39.50 face value (£43.45 all told with your booking fee) from their official retailer, Gigs and Tours. Wheelchair access tickets are also available.
Not only is that a much more affordable option for those who didn’t want to fork out more than £115 for the two-day pass at Neighbourhood Weekender back in May, but the wristband grants you access to every single venue on the list.
Even a one-day ticket at Weekender cost £59.50 + booking fee, whereas with Neighbourhood Fest you still get the chance to see some serious box office names at Neighbourhood Fest for less money. More spare pennies for food and pints, init.
It’s also worth noting that you can grab tickets on the day as a last resort, but we’d obviously advise getting yourself sorted before then.
As announced on Wednesday, this year’s box office and wristband exchange will be located at the University of Manchester Students Union building (M13 9PR) – the Lime Grove entrance, to be specific.
This will be open from 9.30am and will close promptly at 7.30pm, meaning there will be no wristbands issued after this time, so we would obviously recommend arriving as early as possible to avoid the large queues.
Organisers also had some important top tips to share with you:
Last but not least, make sure to keep a lookout on Facebook, Twitterand Instagram for the latest updates and, most importantly, grab your tickets HERE while you still can.