BLOG: Nurse shares why she wants to battle stigma against mental ill health with a fundraising hike for Mind

Posted: 07/08/17

Sycamore tree next to Hadrian's Wall

I’m sat here, cup of tea beside me, staring at a blank screen, hoping words would magically form. You see, I’ve never written a blog before and my fingers didn’t seem to know what to write either.

However, eventually I realised that you’re here reading this so I’ve already got your attention! And relax… I also realised it’s not how I present this that’s important, it’s the message contained within. So… I’m just going to tell you a little bit about myself and why I am fundraising for Tyneside and Northumberland Mind. Hopefully it might even inspire some of you to fundraise for this fantastic charity yourself, but it would also be great to simply create awareness.

I am a Night Co-ordinator, working for Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust.  I am a nurse at heart with a passion for helping people with mental health issues and doing what I can to raise awareness and reduce the awful stigma that sadly still exists in today’s world. Nobody bats an eyelid when someone has to wear a cast for a broken leg; however, sadly, there are some who still stigmatise people with mental health issues, labelling them as being ‘different’ or a deviation of ‘normal’ and this saddens me. Often it is through a lack of understanding about mental health. There are some amazing charities out there, such as Mind, that aim to help people with mental health difficulties and work tirelessly to reduce this unfortunate stigma.

Not only am I a nurse, but like many, I have had experience of having family members with such issues, which in fact is what inspired me to become a nurse way back when I was at school. If I could help just one person, like the services helped my family, it would all be worth it. Which is also how I feel about fundraising for Tyneside and Northumberland Mind; if my small fundraising contribution can help just one person, then hey, I’ve made a difference.

It all started when I came to work one night and during a break (obviously!), whilst eating my supper at about 2am, I sat looking at our weekly Chief Executive Bulletin to catch up on the news. A two line paragraph jumped out at me: it asked “Are you interested in becoming a fundraiser for Tyneside and Northumberland Mind, and fancy running the Bamburgh 10k or hiking Hadrian’s Wall?” Interesting. I clicked on the link to the flyer and immediately thought I can make a difference here, even if it’s just a small one. I fired off an email asking for more information and the rest is history, just like the famous wall itself! I quickly learned about the Hadrian’s Wall hike and the intention to ‘Boot the Blues’ whilst raising money for Mind.

Now, unlucky for me, I have plantar fasciitis in my feet which causes me extreme pain at times (so much so I have heel injections to look forward to later this month!). So I knew I couldn’t manage the 10k Bamburgh run because sadly running is off the cards just now. However, a hike along Hadrian’s Wall over three days would not only allow me to raise money for an amazing charity, but it would also be a huge personal challenge for me to ride the pain whilst doing so, and I like a challenge.

‘How kind people have been makes me smile’

On speaking to the organisers of the hike, it was clear that they are also very passionate about raising awareness, so to be walking the walk with like-minded people will be amazing and I am really looking forward to it. We will start off at Lanercost Information Centre and hike twenty-eight miles over three days to Chester’s Fort, all the while, proudly sporting our T-shirts that declare that we are ‘BOOTING THE BLUES!’ and promoting awareness of mental health issues to anyone that will listen. And of course, we are raising money for a wonderful charity in the process.

My enthusiasm burned to get involved in this wonderful campaign and I was quick to set up my Justgiving page and set myself a target of £250. Now, my immediate thought was, I’ll never reach that, but as I’ve already said, I like a challenge so there it was, my target.

I am a nurse at heart with a passion for helping people with mental health issues and doing what I can to raise awareness and reduce the awful stigma that sadly still exists in today’s world

My posters went up at work, my Facebook friends were inundated with my story and my page was shared by myself, my family and my friends across social media. Within a few days, I was almost half way there! I couldn’t believe it, and I still can’t, having now gone way over my target amount, with some cash donations still to be collected. I have received sponsors from friends, family, work colleagues and even a few strangers who have read my story on the Trust’s discussion board ‘Chatterbox’ or in my Mother-in-law’s hair salon.

The excitement every time I receive an email telling me “someone has made a donation to your page” or I see another name added to my sponsor form is overwhelming. Just the thought of how kind people have been in helping me raise money for Mind makes me smile. There really are some amazing and kind people out there and I am bursting with pride to be able to represent their kindness by hiking the wall and proving that we can indeed ‘Boot the Blues’.