A Prestwich tattooist has said people trust tattoo artists with both their bodies and minds after the launch of a new mental wellbeing support service.

As part of the Shining a Light on Suicide campaign, awareness is being raised among tattooists about support available for those affected by a bereavement or struggling with their mental health.

Laura Murton, who runs Lux Tattoo on Bury New Road in Prestwich said she prides herself on running a welcoming and inclusive place, adding that clients often ‘open up’ during the tattooing process.

She said: “We might have someone who is coming to have their first tattoo or someone who is 70 years old and covered in them and still wants to carry on. We accept everyone here. 

“People have tattoos for all sorts of reasons. We see a lot of people who want a tattoo to mark the loss of a loved one, or for surviving a difficult time in their own lives.

“You build up a good rapport with people, they are trusting you with something that is so permanent.

Bury Times: Laura Murton, who runs Lux Tattoo on Bury New Road in Prestwich

“People trust us with their bodies, and they trust us with their minds as well.

“People speak, they open up and we have a lot of clients that say tattooing for them is like therapy.”

Tattooists like Laura and other professionals in public-facing roles are being given information about available bereavement support and free suicide prevention training and information.

Bury Times: Laura Murton, who runs Lux Tattoo on Bury New Road in Prestwich

The Greater Manchester Suicide Prevention and Bereavement (GMSPB) service say they also want tattoo artists to know that the services are there for them too.

Adele Owen, the NHS GMSPB Support Lead, said: “We're aware that tattooists will have people tell them potentially upsetting or distressing information about themselves. 

“We recognise that can have a real impact on their own wellbeing, and they might feel unsure what to say or do.”

Bury Times: Thelma Ridgway

One couple, Thelma and Ian Ridgway from Stockport, lost their 16-year-old son, Lee, to suicide in 2016.

Using Lee’s original artwork, both had tattoos despite ‘not being tattoo people’.

Thelma said: “I've never even been in a tattoo studio before. I didn't particularly like tattoos, but now I have to say I understand the significance, the meaning behind them. It's a way of keeping Lee close to us.

Bury Times: Thelma Ridgway

“We are so proud of our tattoos and I've got a new-found appreciation for anybody else who decides to go and get inked up.”

Laura added: “The bereavement tattoos are always hard because clients will get emotional and then we get emotional. You do take it home with you and think about it. You don’t always know what to say.

“We want to be that safe space for people to come and have a chat and if they need it, be signposted wherever they need to go. It is reassuring to know that lots of help is out there.”

If you are a tattooist, a hair professional or beautician and would like resources about available help, leaflets or posters contact gmicb-sal.gm.bs@nhs.com