Triple Challenge: Fundraising for SAMH

When 2015 began, I wanted it to forget about me and leave me behind. I wanted nothing to do with the endless slog of one pointless day after the last, for 365 days more. The year felt like a plague and I was an Israelite with blood above my door signalling, "You are not welcome here. Please pass over this house."

When the rational part of my brain eventually kicked in and I realised non-participation wasn't going to be an option, I decided I needed a goal to focus on and something to give the year a sense of contribution and worth. And so it was that my personal fundraising challenge was born.
I've decided to try and raise some money for SAMH - the Scottish Association for Mental Health.

Did you know that, in Scotland, around 1 in every 4 people will experience a mental health problem? Not only that, but two people die by suicide every single day. That's an awful lot of people struggling in this little country of ours and the chances are we all know someone who's been personally affected by these issues.

And yet, in spite of such prevalence, 9 out of 10 people say they've experienced stigma or discrimination in relation to their mental health problems. Statistics say that some 25% of people still wait more than a year before finally seeking help. And when they do reach out, many of them find themselves waiting even longer as limited budgets and resources mean that 50% of Scottish health boards struggle to provide access to psychological therapies within the target 18 weeks after referral. We have a long way to go before mental health problems are treated with the same levels of understanding, dignity and care as physical ones.

SAMH seeks to change this, taking positive steps towards a mentally healthy Scotland. They work to promote mental well-being in the general public with their '5 Ways to Better Mental Health'; they're a leading partner in 'See Me' - "Scotland's national campaign to end the stigma and discrimination of mental ill-health"; they run a national program for suicide prevention; they provide accessible information and resources relating to mental health issues; they run community-based services including access to employment and supported accommodation; and they campaign for better legislation, policies and practices which improve the rights and treatment of those with mental health problems.

The work they do is significant at both local and national levels and it's vital that they have the funding to continue. I want to try and contribute even a tiny amount to that.

So.. What are the three challenges I've set myself?

Challenge 1: Run the Colour Me Rad 5k.
Five kilometers might not seem like much of a challenge to most, but ..I can't run. Running, to me, is associated with PE lessons spent struggling up the old railway line while the boys hid in gardens and hitched a lift back to school. I've tried to get into the sport a few times in recent years, but my efforts have all been short-lived as I quickly discovered that I don't know how to move my body in that way and do that thing with the Oxygen I think we call breathing. I've got from now until Saturday 6th June to build up to the point where I can both breathe and run a comfortable 5k along Aberdeen's esplanade while strangers throw exploding bombs of colour at me.

Challenge 2: Complete the Great Scottish Swim's 1 mile course
Unlike running, swimming is a sport I'm actually okay at. I can thrash out a mile pretty comfortably in the pool these days, with the odd break at each end. But a mile without stopping? Surrounded by lots of other people? In Loch Lomond?! That's considerably more challenging. This event takes place on Saturday 29th August.

Challenge 3: Participate in the Forth Bridge 125th Anniversary Abseil 
Yup, you read that correctly. I'm going to abseil from the Forth Rail Bridge. It's a 165ft free-fall abseil and I'm not sure I really need to explain why that's a challenge. Eek! I'll be attempting this ridiculous feat and rounding up my challenge series on Sunday 18th October.

I'm going to try and keep a record here of my progress in training and participating in these events. My sister is also tackling a series of events for the same cause. You can read what she's up to here. Neither of us want to be hassling people for money, but if you have a pound or two to spare then both I and SAMH would really value your support. You can hit the button below to donate, or the more observant among you might have noticed the button that already appeared on the left of the blog.

JustGiving - Sponsor me now!


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  1. Wow! I am very, very impressed. What a fantastic response to the overwhelming desire to crawl back under the covers. Good for you. I have often wished I could do something to raise money for ME research, but at the moment my caring responsibilities leave me so little time for myself that I use that time to rest, not abseil, or try to run. Maybe someday. (Sponsored silence?)

    I will be very happy to give you my support. Do please keep us updated! And take care. X

    1. Christine, thank you SO much for your support and your very generous donation. It's hugely appreciated. Truly. And a big motivator in cracking on with some training!
      - Laura xo