Project information

The Maytree Respite Centre

Maytree is a unique charity for suicidal people in despair. We offer a safe space - a sanctuary ran by staff and trained volunteers - where they can be heard & given specialised, non-judgemental befriending.
Help Maytree raise £45k towards our annual funding target and help save many more lives.

January 2018 - January 2019

Charity information: The Maytree Respite Centre

The Maytree Respite Centre logo
  • Need


    Suicide in the UK is on the rise again. In 2015, there were 6,188 suicides of people aged 10 or over. 1,780 people died on UK roads in the same period. Suicide is difficult to talk about and mapping distinct pockets of beneficiaries within the UK is a complex task. e.g For every suicide there are 20-30 people who have made an attempt; 1/4 people know someone who has killed themselves, and as such are at twice the risk of taking their own life; Suicide is the biggest killer of men aged 20-45.


    Maytree fills a vital gap in services for suicidal people who are not able or ready to access mainstream psychiatric support and for whom the help lines and drop in centres of the voluntary sector are not enough.
    We offer a brief stay of five days in a non-medical setting with space and time to be listened to, to be heard and to reflect, in the hope that people will make the decision that they want to live. We also provide support by phone and email to those suffering from suicidal thoughts.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    To enable actively suicidal people to re-engage with life and greatly reduce their suicide risk.


    » Actively suicidal people at high risk will stay as ‘guests’ in the non-medical, peaceful and homely environment at Maytree
    » Each guest will receive up to 77 hours of intensive one-to-one befriending and emotional support from trained volunteers and staff.
    » Guests will be enabled to develop coping strategies and ongoing sources of support will be set up, linking guests up to relevant services.
    » Upon leaving, guests will receive a goodbye letter which will act as a physical reminder of the intense often life changing experience.

    What success will look like

    Success will be that 130 suicidal people will receive intensive support through a stay at Maytree next year enabling them to cope and substantially reducing their suicide risk.

    Aim 2

    To provide support and advice to people experiencing suicidal thoughts and their friends/family.


    » People with suicidal thoughts and their friends and family will be given emotional support, advice and guidance by phone and email.
    » Where appropriate callers and e-mailers will be cross referred to organisations able to help them address their specific worries.
    » An enhanced online presence and networking with partners such as GPs, hospitals and psychotherapists will increase awareness and reach more people.

    What success will look like

    Success will be that at least 1,000 people with suicidal thoughts or their friends and family members will receive support via phone or email.

  • Impact


    Maytree will support suicidal people, improve mental health and reduce suicide risk with the long term outcome that more lives will be saved.

    Independent clinical evaluations have demonstrated highly significant reductions in distress levels among guests both upon leaving and at 3 - 5 month follow up. We receive a substantial amount of feedback from former guests - sometimes years later - telling us how Maytree enabled them to reach a turning point and feel that life is worth living.


    The greatest risk is that of a suicide being completed on the premises. This has never happened as we have mitigated for it thoroughly, have comprehensive policies in place and always have experienced staff and volunteers on duty 24 hours a day, everyday. Another risk is a lack of funding due to the economic climate which has proved very tough in recent years. A core part of our strategy is to maximise income from individual supporters such as through the Big Give.


    Donors and supporters will receive our annual report each year detailing the activities and outcomes achieved at Maytree. They will receive regular updates and news by email as well as being able to access project information through our website.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £324,451

    Loading graph....
      Amount Heading Description
      £17,445 Providing a welcoming house Household expenses, cleaning, maintenance, rates, insurance, servicing equipment
      £227,726 Staffing 2 x service delivery co-ordinator, Director, Fundraiser, Administrator, Finance Officer,
      £55,589 Project implementation IT/telecoms for supporting suicidal people, food for guests, volunteer expenses, training, outreach
      £23,691 Project management Accountancy, payroll, audit, recruitment, legal advice, consultancy/evaluation

    Current Funding / Pledges

    Source Amount
    Grants (Trusts & Foundations) £149,000 Guaranteed
    Individuals £85,430 Conditional
  • Background


    The Maytree house is located in Finsbury Park, North London, making it accessible and well connected to transport links. It is a terraced house with 4 bedrooms and a beautiful south facing garden situated in a quiet area. The warm and calm environment provides the necessary normalising environment. It is in stark contrast to the institutionalised and often high security buildings found in mainstream psychiatric services which deter many from seeking help.


    Guests can by anyone over 18 from anywhere in the UK suffering from a suicidal crisis. Approximately half our guests have not had recent contact with mental health services, 70% have tried to kill themselves once and 17% three or more times. Last year two thirds were from London and the rest from across the country. People of all ages stayed and nearly a fifth were 25 or under. A third were from minority ethnic groups, 34% were unemployed, 30% had a disability, and 13% were gay or bisexual.

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    We are unique in our provision of non-medical emotional befriending through expertly trained volunteers. We were established in 2002, and our vision then was that everyone in a suicidal crisis should have a safe space to go, where they could be heard and supported has become a reality. Maytree is a place of sanctuary, offering people time and space to reflect and rediscover why life may be worth living. Four nights at Maytree can be the difference between wanting to live and wanting to die.

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Simon Armson, Chairman Of The Trustees

    Former Chief Executive of Samaritans, ex-Chair of the Mental Health Commission, Mental Health Act Commissioner, now a practising psychotherapist

    Natalie Howarth, Maytree Director

    Natalie has a wealth of management and voluntary sector experience working in the drug and alcohol, homelessness and mental health fields.

    Service Delivery Co-Ordinators

    Our team of service delivery co-ordinators support people experiencing a suicidal crisis as well as managing and training volunteers to do so.


    80 befriending volunteers supporting suicidal people in crisis helping them talk through their problems, find solutions and regain a love of life.

“When I first encountered the work of the Maytree centre, my initial thought was simply, ‘Why had no one thought of this before?’”

Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury