Supportive messages disappear from Meir bridge

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Tributes dedicated to Stephanie Housley and messages of support have disappeared from the Meir bridge over the A50 in Stoke-on-Trent.

The mystery of their whereabouts has sparked a large social media backlash between members of the Meir community and suicide awareness charity, Bridge the Gap.

Housley, 34, fell from the bridge on 11 March and, following her tragic death, family and friends hung flowers and messages of love along the bridge as a tribute.

They also offered supportive quotes and helpline numbers to those who may be in similar situations.

On Sunday morning, the Bridge the Gap charity gathered a group of volunteers to go to the bridge and post more messages.

The group, which was established in 2017, travel around the country decorating bridges where people have taken their own lives at the request of the local communities.

They leave “messages of hope and support” to try and prevent further suicides, according to spokesperson Lisa Barnes.

Only a few of the original messages from the bridge are still in place, however.

This was the cause of the social media argument between the two groups.

The Meir community that had posted the original messages were upset to find that their personal notes had been removed.

Many of them were friends and family of Stephanie and were devastated and angry that their tributes were nowhere to be found.

Kellie Heal, a member of a Meir community Facebook group, wrote: “I find it extremely disrespectful that someone finds it acceptable to take these signs down. The community of Meir came together and put up personal messages for Steph and her family.”

Much of the online blame for the disappearance of the signs fell on the Bridge the Gap charity.

Barnes described how the group “started to get a barrage of really vile and nasty messages saying that Bridge the Gap had come down, torn all the signs down, and replaced them with our own”

She continued: “We would absolutely never do that. We are a community project and we invite people to help us. It is the people of the communities that invite us down to in their communities to do that.”

There has been many comments across various social media channels speculating about the real cause of the disappearing signs.

Theories range from high winds tearing them down to vandals destroying the messages.

There is no answer yet as to where the signs have disappeared.

However, it is clear to see that the people of Meir and charities alike have a similar goal – remembering those who have tragically passed, and trying to prevent future incidents of the same kind.

For anyone who needs support or someone to talk to, here are just a few people you can contact in the Stoke-on-Trent area:

Samaritans – Text 116 123

Staffordshire Mental Heath Helpline – Call 0808 800 2234

Staffordshire University Mental Health Team – Call 01782 294 977

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