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An increasing number of influential bodies are calling for the capricious benefit sanctions regime to be reformed so that people are provided with the human rights protections they are entitled to. Among the specific issues of most concern to these various bodies have been the impact of benefit sanctions on mental health, as well as the impact of sanctions on children.
Suicide rates in disadvantaged areas of Northern Ireland are three times higher than the regional average. Areas such as the Lower Falls district in Belfast have been disproportinately affected. Following yet another tragic death of a young man from the Divis Street bridge, a local self help group, the Square Cut Punt Crew, decided to campaign to get the bridge heightened. The group felt that heightening the bridge would act as a key preventative measure against suicide and was both concrete and achievable. This article explains how in just a few months they have built an active campaign and how they have come up witht their own innovative way of measuring change - in the form of a measuring stick!