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They said it couldn’t be done: Sam Jenkin reports further on our last 5 Quid for Life meeting

by on November 29, 2011
MadUp#2 Update, 12/1/2011
Unfortunately the date originally proposed for our next meeting and a meetup with you, our friends and supporters, hasn’t proved viable. We are now looking at Saturday Feb 11th, venue yet to be finalised. Please watch this space for updates and your inbox for an invitation…

THEY SAID IT COULDN’T BE DONE — so we did it. Held a meeting that is. Using new Google+ meeting room technology. Except we didn’t because actually I, Sam, needed a web cam and a mic and not all of us could get on: we eventually resorted to Johnathon diligently setting up a private facebook chat thingie (okay, I am rather technologically impaired, so bite me).

But after a shaky start, with Phil and Jonathon bellowing, “Hello, hello, can you hear me?” at each other and the rest of us, Paula and I, texting in to say yes, but you can’t hear us, general chaos as Kate got online and couldn’t find us (being somewhere else from where we had agreed did not help), it worked fine and we started on a lengthy and challenging agenda.

At times it felt like we were all in the same room, debating, discussing, referring, deferring, disagreeing, agreeing and joyfully being part of something rather awesome we had all stepped up to do 10 months earlier. At other times, we felt the separateness of each other keenly — mainly when it came time for coffee and meal breaks, because what we really wanted to do was be sitting round Paula’s dining table again, eating her wonderful meals and doing what we seem to do best: laugh, cry, support and create.

But despite the distance and the electronic communication, we still shared and loved and talked; oh, how we talked. We talked about all the things mentioned in Phil’s blog post but we also agreed our Constitution, an important step on the way to becoming a fully fledged charity. Talk of meeting up in person in January developed into plans to hold a MadUp #2, combining meeting and meet-up to celebrate our first birthday. [See above for an update – Ed.]

We also finalised the criteria, the process and the forms for application, so that we are now in a position to help people, something that is going to become more and more critical as people’s benefits are denied them.

Fore wot I am about to reck, may the Lord mayke me trooly fankful...

Fore wot I am about to reck, may the Lord mayke me trooly fankful...

The cats (mine) interfered several times, demanding food, clean litter and cuddles with menaces and some of us (okay, mostly me) had to reboot ageing computer equipment.

We broke several times to put on kettles round the country, we drank copious amounts of tea, had litter tray breaks and after 5 hours that felt like 50 minutes, we were done.

What had we done? Taken a few giant steps forward to be able to support those with mental health problems whose much needed benefits are slowly but surely being removed from them. Without those benefits, they face hardship, homelessness and despair.

Mental illness will affect 1 in 4 people in the UK over their lifetimes. This statistic does not mean 1 in 4 of us will know of someone who is mentally ill: it means 1 in 4 people will become mentally ill. That’s 25% of the population.

Some of us will be lucky enough to be able to take time off work to heal, some of us will get better quickly. Some of us won’t. Some of us will need benefits to survive, to keep a roof over our heads and to eat. And they won’t be there. Just as they are not there for those who face such challenges right now.

Mental ill-health is not something to be ashamed of, to be tucked away and not talked about. And needing benefits to survive is not something to be ashamed of either. It is what they are supposed to be there for. Or were.

Our dream is to be able to help everyone who faces such hardship, to help keep the bailiffs from the door, to keep food in bellies and to help those already facing the fight of their lives to keep on going, to find a place of peace and happiness and to have the resources available to them to do this.

Just £5 a month will pay a bill, put food in an empty cupboard, keep debt collectors from the door, change despair into triumph. Please – help us help them.

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From → 5 Quid for Life

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