Widow of man who died at city car park welcomes safety changes

Sasha Billham, right, with husband Christopher, who died after falling from a city car park

Sasha Billham, right, with husband Christopher, who died after falling from a city car park - Credit: Sasha Billham

The widow of a man who fell to his death from a city car park has welcomed safety changes being made at the site.

Christopher Billham died on July 28, 2020, in Norwich after falling from the roof of a car park in the city, after emergency services spent more than 12 hours attempting to negotiate with him.

Since the incident, police and firefighters have made several improvements to the way they operate together in these incidents and Norwich City Council has applied to itself to make structural changes to the car park itself.

Christopher Billham, riding his beloved horse Troy

Christopher Billham, riding his beloved horse Troy - Credit: Sasha Billham

The changes have been welcomed by the 54-year-old's wife Sasha Billham, who also spoke of her concerns at an inquest into his death held last year.

She said: "It is brilliant news that changes are being made to the car park and it is long overdue.

"Ever since it happened I have been trying to encourage changes to be made and this happening will make that all worthwhile. If something changes and it saves just one life, then it will all so be worth it. 

"It will be something positive coming from something negative."

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Mrs Billham, of Keswick, praised the police and fire service for their own responses following the incident - which has seen new training introduced for both organisations - and welcomed the proposals for new barriers at the car park.

But she said she was yet to see evidence of the same level of improvement in the region's mental health services.

Since Mr Billham died, the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust was judged as inadequate for a fourth time by the Care Quality Commission.

Mrs Billham added: "I believe the mental health trust should involve families more in their care and I am very passionate about trying to help change things.

"If people do not have a massive family ring around them when they find themselves in crisis, what hope do they have when there is so little confidence in the mental health services?

"I truly hope in the future that things will start to change, but it is so demoralising to keep hearing people go through the same things."

During the inquest into Mr Billham's death, Andy Mack, NSFT's service director, said that the Trust had made concerted efforts to involve family members more in the care of their loved ones.

The location of the car park has been omitted for safety reasons

If you need help and support, call NHS 111 and select option 2 or the Samaritans on 116 123. Both services are available 24 hours, 7 days a week. You can also download the Stay Alive app on Apple & Android.