AFTER a decade at the helm of Lifeline Central West, Alex Ferguson says it is time to take a step back and allow the next generation to carry on the charity’s work.
For the past 10 years, he has driven the charity’s focus into new areas and has been a passionate spokesperson for mental health issues and driving down the high number of suicides.
In his time as Lifeline Central West (LCW), Mr Ferguson has run the crisis call centres in Bathurst, Orange and Dubbo, along with developing new training courses for the public.
He has also been behind regular fundraising book fairs and the air, bike and car show – Soar, Ride and Shine.
Lifeline may be well known for its 13 11 14 crisis support number, but in recent years Mr Ferguson said LCW had focused its approach to mental health issues from being reactive to proactive.
“In coming months, Lifeline will release its new training program which will focus on mental health, domestic violence, financial training for elders, and gambling,” he said.
“These subjects are very pertinent to the issues faced in our modern society.”
These subjects are very pertinent to the issues faced in our modern society.Lifeline's Alex Ferguson
However, at 70 years old, Mr Ferguson said the time had come to take a “step back from the day-to-day running of the charity”.
He said fresh ideas and new vision were needed in the mental health sector and that new LCW CEO Stephanie Robinson would build on the charity’s previous successes.
She will lead a team of 16 staff and 110 volunteers.
Ms Robinson said LCW was a key organisation to help build community resilience and reduce the impacts of mental health and suicide. “We’re not just there to pick up the pieces … my hope is we can do a lot of other work before it gets to that point,” she said.
“If we can help make people better parents and better work colleagues, then that’s a good thing.”
In her three years with LCW, Ms Robinson has volunteered as a crisis supporter on the 13 11 14 number and has been centre manager since January. Mr Ferguson will continue as executive director with LCW and remain involved in the charity’s special projects in the future.