After making an episode of my podcast Opening Doors on the topic of mental health and interviewing my friend Zoe, I was inspired to host a midnight walk in aid of the mental health charity Mind. The event was a raging success and raised over £1000 for the charity. Today, I want to talk about why I’m always up for charity work and the difference a little bit of your time can make to others.
I’ve been a supporter of charity all my life. Sure, it was initially through the means of a charity shop when I was younger, but it’s always been something that my parents have encouraged me to be interested in. My real love for charity didn’t come on like it has now until I was appointed the head of my school’s Charities Committee in last year and was tasked with coordinating a group of about 60 people to host a series of five events across a two day time span. The task forced to me understand how to manage teams and sub-teams, how to co-ordinate that many events, how to fundraise money in sneaky and unorthodox ways, and so much more. In the end, we managed to raise over £3000 – a feat that had never been achieved at my school with the “charity days” idea before that point – and I was over the moon. And what I soon realised after we’d done this work to support Clinical Human Factors Group – a charity chosen by a voting system I also organised my school to take part in – was that charity work is a very enjoyable task for myself, too.
I think it’s a common misconception that people who do charity work are constantly slaving away: that really isn’t the case. Of course, organising a charity event is not a total walk in the park and yes, it does take work, but the work is all relative. Yes, pulling together a midnight walk and letting the council know and organising t-shirts and collecting donations and meeting targets etc etc is a tricky activity, but when you complete the task with over £1000 in the kitty to help hundreds of people who are suffering – and potentially in life-threatening situations – that work is suddenly redundant; it’s gone from being work to being a simple helpful task. People always say that charity work for others is equally as rewarding for the person putting the effort in than the person who benefits from it and while that isn’t why I do charity work at all, it’s certainly true. The feeling of knowing how the £1000 I bothered to put the time in to help raise is going to help so many is an immensely gratifying feeling and makes it all worthwhile.
I decided to organise my midnight walk for Mind which I hosted last Saturday after making the mental health episode of Opening Doors earlier on this year. In the episode, my friend Zoe from MammalfulZo was interviewed and when talking about the mental health problems that her two daughters have suffered from, she expressed how sad it was for her that people don’t organise as many fundraising events for mental health charities as they do physical health ones. Almost ironically, Zoe sited her reason for not being able to change this is because of her physical health problems and so I decided that it should be my task to try and carry out the event for her. About five months later and the event was underway, one that actually took a lot more work than I’d imagined it would. I’d never even done a midnight walk before so why the idea came to me I do not know, but it was fascinating to learn what the event was about, gather people, and more.
Before I continue, I do have to say a massive thank you to all of my friends who took part in the midnight walk and of course helped to raise hundreds and hundreds of pounds for the cause: Lianne, Abbie, Lucy, Savannah, Amy, Matthew, Sam, Tom, Em, Meg (pictured), Christine, Chris, Jack, Laura, Claire, and – not to forget – my mother. A charity event is so much more fun when working together as a team to complete the event and to raise the money in the build-up. The night was one of my favourite nights of recent times and I’m so proud of what we pulled together to do.
I was told many lovely compliments along the way when pulling the walk together and while I accept them gracefully, I also politely reject the notion that I’m “amazing” for pulling together a midnight walk. It’s no act of heroism to spend a few hours of my time here and there to sort out a midnight walk with friends in aid of a charity; the organising and admin part is the easy part. I think the real heroism here is people believing in the cause and donating money. A charity event that raises no money is a really weird group sober walk through the night for no reason; with £1000 behind it, it’s a statement about the change that people have pledged to make. The walk at the end (or, in our case, in the midst) of the fundraising process is not always an event that people have sponsored you to take part in. On this occasion, it felt so much more like a celebration for all of the donations that people had given and a statement to raise awareness for a fantastic charity.
What I’m trying to say is that charity work is not as taxing or as difficult as you may think and that there are many other charities than the ones that have charity shops on our high streets. While Mind is relatively well-known, there are events I am planning for other charities that not a single person I’ve mentioned them to had ever heard of before. Take CHFG – the hospital complications charity we supported at school – for example. I know no one personally who has been affected by hospital complications and almost no one knew of the charity when I told them about it, but that doesn’t mean we couldn’t take time out of our days to raise money for them and support them; you don’t need to be emotionally affected by a tragedy to support or work with charity.
I am exponentially lucky to be such a privileged person and you reading this are privileged, too. We all have our own privilege in one way or another and it does not take a superhuman to organise an event for a charity. So please, especially this summer, take a little bit of time out of your schedule to organise a charity event, or even to donate to a JustGiving page or a charity of your choice. Even if your donation is £1, or even if it is £100, you’re making a difference. And you could’ve done that in the time it’s taken you to read this blog post.