A Space to Talk

A local group offering support for people in emotional distress has set up a safe space at a Narrabeen café.

The MoWaNa Northern Beaches Safe Space has been set up at The Mind Café at Pittwater Road, Narrabeen, by a local group who wanted to have a space for people in emotional distress to come and talk about their problems in a supportive environment.

MoWaNa President Melani Kypri (main image, centre) said she had first-hand experience of the need for a non-clinical setting for people to be able to discuss their problems.

Melani Kypri

Melani Kypri

“Back in March 2021, a young 15-year-old girl died by suicide. She was the same age as my daughter. She was bullied. I got pretty angry, and there were two or three other girls who had died.

“When this final girl died, I’d had enough. If no one else was going to do something, we had to. So I put it on Facebook, and people responded to that.

“That was in 2021, and we started thinking about what we could do. We didn’t know what it was going to be. Then I had a turn for the worse, and attempted suicide. COVID and other problems was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

“From my experience being in hospital and the recovery period, I thought we’ve got to do better. People that are feeling mentally stressed out, they need peace and quiet, they need calmness around them,” shared Ms Kypri.

The idea of a safe space was born, and with support from others, Ms Kypri found a willing host, The Mind Café, which last week (Tuesday, 11 July) won the Northern Beaches Inclusion Award in the 2023 Northern Beaches Local Business Awards.

Guy, Kate, Aileen, Melani and Michell at the MoWaNa safe space at The Mind Cafe

Café owner Guy Morel (image above, left) said he was pleased to offer a safe space for people in distress to come and talk to trained people.

“This issue is really close to my heart. The purpose and values behind this café align with what MoWaNa is about.

“The café started a ‘pay it forward’ jar and within a day it was almost full. Often people will tell me their story and I keep that very secure because it’s up to them if they want to tell it.

“Staff will see me give out a coffee and ask, ‘why did you give it to someone that didn’t need it?’ but I know they needed it, despite the fact they didn’t look like it, I know their story,” explained Mr Morel.

The safe space is run by dedicated Peer CARE Companions, individuals who have faced their own emotional distress and suicidal thoughts and are passionate about helping others find a way through their challenges.

MoWaNa has just held its inaugural fund-raiser, raising an impressive $29k, which will go towards initiatives that will strengthen their ability to support its peers effectively. A significant portion of the funds will be used to educate and provide additional training for the Peer CARE Companions.

“We are thrilled and grateful for the overwhelming support we received during our fund-raiser event. The $29k raised will be instrumental in furthering our mission to provide essential support and care to those in need within our community,” said Ms Kypri.

MoWaNa stands for Mona Vale, Warriewood and Narrabeen. The safe space operates 5.00pm to 9.00pm, Friday to Sunday, out of The Mind Café at 1346 Pittwater Road, Narrabeen (on the main road near Woolworths). People who need someone to talk to are encouraged to drop in.

Images: Northern Beaches Advocate

A space to talk – Northern Beaches Advocate

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