Challenges and Changes
MY APOLOGIES, first of all, for the long gap between posts: life, as they say, and life’s challenges don’t go away, as we all know only too well. Last month — on October 15th, to be precise, exactly one month ago today — the 5 Quid for Life Committee held our second meeting, this time in cyberspace rather than face-to-face in a physical space. We had hoped to meet via a Google+ hangout, but the technology defeated us and we reconvened via facebook chat, typing rather than talking, and it worked remarkably well for a meeting that stretched over some 5 hours.
Those present were Sam Jenkin, Johnathon Tinsley, Paula Ann Walker, Kate White and myself, Phil Groom, with apologies from David Edwards. I guess I should also make honorable mention of Sam’s cats, who periodically interrupted the meeting with demands for attention and fresh cat litter, but that’s another story that I’ll allow Sam to elaborate on if she so chooses. My personal thanks to one and all — humans and cats alike — for taking the time out of their otherwise busy lives for this meeting.
Paula, whose gentle persistence over the summer led to the meeting, kicked the meeting off with a brief financial report: we now have a number of supporters committed to regular giving of £5 per month and as of the date of our meeting, our bank balance stood at a total of £1,883.55, now increased to £1,953.94. A huge thank you to everyone who has contributed to this; though I’ve said it before, I think it’s worth saying again: without your support, 5 Quid for Life simply would not exist.
We thank you all again for your continued donations because your support and encouragement is what kept us all at our PCs and Macs for 5 hours; and what inspires us to keep going and indeed go further in terms of growth, marketing and advertising so that we may indeed be able to offer real help to those who find themselves in need of it.
Sadly, however, due to personal circumstances, after giving her report Paula then handed in her resignation as Finance Officer, and the Committee agreed that I would take on the role on an interim basis until a replacement can be found. I am therefore now 5 Quid for Life’s Interim Finance Officer, but if you, gentle reader, are suitably experienced, have a head for the world of high finance and book keeping, and are willing to volunteer your services, then I (or any other member of the Committee) would be very happy to hear from you and to discuss what’s involved (bankers implicated in the current economic crisis need not apply). Another huge thank you, then, this time to Paula, through whose efforts we have both bank and PayPal accounts up and running: Paula, you have been a rock and I salute you.
Paula remains a member of 5 Quid for Life but will no longer serve on the Board or as a Trustee.
Communications and Fundraising
Communications and fundraising were the next topics under the spotlight, with a lively discussion during which Kate put forward ideas for a new logo, Sam suggested a video promotion, and it was agreed by all that we need to be rather more proactive in liaising with other mental health groups and organisations — such as Mind — as well as making better use of our own facebook page, the original 200 People facebook group and twitter. If you come across a news story or blog post that you think we should be aware of or respond to, please do feel free to give us a shout-out on twitter or post a link on our facebook wall; and please help us to spread the word about 5 Quid for Life — the risk of suicide amongst the mentally ill is real, as this recent Mind blog post illustrates all too painfully: Why MoneySupermarket ran for Mind.
I guess we’ll never know quite what tipped Mark Hanson over the edge, but we do know that one of the big issues affecting and destabilising those struggling with mental health issues is money worries — Mind have an entire section of their site dedicated to the topic, Money and Mental Health — and 5 Quid for Life exists specifically to help those whose financial security is threatened by the DWP’s changes to the UK benefits system. We are not alone in voicing these concerns, of course, and we stand in solidarity with other campaign groups seeking to raise awareness of the impact these changes are already having on vulnerable people, even before they’re finalised.
An important change on the communications front is that Karita Razzell, who was one of our spokespeople, has stepped down from that role due to other commitments. Karita remains as a member of the team behind the scenes in admin support, and in her place as spokesperson we’re delighted to welcome Carrie Holroyd. Carrie will be no stranger to readers of One in Four magazine, to which she is a regular contributor, but for the benefit of those who don’t know her, I’ve invited her to write a brief introduction as part of our ‘Meet the Team‘ series: watch this space! Thank you to both Karita and Carrie for all their encouragement, help and support.
What Next? MadUp #2…
Inevitably we found ourselves asking what next for 5 Quid for Life — and where? The plan — very much in its early stages as I write — is to hold our next meeting on the last Saturday of January at a venue in London; but rather than just another meeting of t’Committee, we thought we should make it a celebration: 5 Quid for Life will be one year old in January 2011! So, subject to our identifying and booking a suitable location, you, gentle reader, as a friend/supporter of 5 Quid for Life, are invited to MadUp #2.
We hope to send out invitations with full details of precisely where and when nearer the time. For the group’s safety and security, however, these details will not be published but kept confidential to those attending. In the meantime, if you’ve got your 2012 diary handy, please pencil in the date now: Saturday 28th Jan 2012. We look forward to seeing you then!
And finally: for those who missed it, here’s my account of MadUp #1 … which, if the truth be told, is where the original seed for 5 Quid for Life was sown:
Some twitter follow suggestions…