Stuart Low Trust leader: 'My ambition is to give back to Islington'
PUBLISHED: 15:01 15 December 2016 | UPDATED: 15:01 15 December 2016
In 1997, Stuart Low took his own life as he couldn't get help. The Gazette speaks to Hannah Kalmanowitz, chief executive of an Islington trust set up in his name.
Hannah Kalmanowitz knows many people in Islington experience mental health crises – and it is something she is striving to address.
She has been chief executive of the Stuart Low Trust for two-and-a-half years.
It’s a charity that aims to give people access to mental health support, and live less isolated lives.
Hannah, 57, tells the Gazette: “Our simple little formula of bringing people together in therapeutic group activities is making a huge difference in Islington.”
Stuart Low, an Islington man in his 20s, had schizophrenia and took his own life in 1997 after failing to find the support he needed to cope.
Two years later Stuart’s mother, Virginia Low, started the organisation as she felt there was still no community support for people like Stuart.
To this day the charity, in White Lion Street, puts on a range of activities and events throughout the year so people can socialise and build their confidence.
Hannah says: “When they come to us it’s like coming home to someone’s living room on a larger scale. They can relax, be themselves and be in a non-judgemental space.”
Hannah has lived in Islington since 1977. “Although I have worked outside the borough, including a hospice in Hackney for seven years, my ambition was to come and give back in my own community.
“I feel quite privileged. I’ve had quite a good lifestyle. I’m a bit older now and joining the trust is my way of giving back.”
Hannah herself lost a long-term friend to suicide, someone she had known since she was five.
When asked why she feels the trust is so vital, she says: “It’s a real lifeline in Islington. Up to 100 people come to our Friday night events.
“If we weren’t here, all these people would be on their own, struggling to deal with their own thoughts.”
The trust holds events ranging from singing and dancing to gardening and even narrowboat holidays.
“I take part in all the activities regularly as I like to be among what happens,” she says. “I’m proud to be part of it.”
The trust’s website was re-launched last week. For more, visit slt.org.uk