Day 76, £740 donated so far

A decade after promising to go to a folk festival, I am finally embarking on my first experience. In my living room.

I am listening to Folk on Foot Front Room Festival 2. Folk on Foot is a podcast series hosted by Matthew Bannister in which he combines his passions of folk music, walking and storytelling by interviewing folk artists in the landscape that inspired them and playing and singing on location. He is hosting a series of online festivals to raise funds for musicians who are experiencing financial hardship due to the lockdown. I’ve donated the typical cost of a day festival ticket, £25, to the Help Musicians charity for today’s Folk on Foot festival.

I remember listening to The Cambridge Folk Festival when I lived a stone’s throw from its site, Cherry Hinton Hall, for two summers. My housemates and I couldn’t see much of the festival but we felt the incredible atmosphere in the village. We vowed to return to visit one year to fully enjoy and learn about this genre of music of which we knew very little.

I owe my recent reunion with folk music to my discovery of Johnny Flynn. His performance of his song The Water with Laura Marling totally captivated me and I’ve spent the last few weeks listening to more and more songs. It made me laugh when I noticed that his song was – somewhat interestingly – released 10 years ago during my time in Cambridge.

I’ve sadly lost touch with my Cambridge housemates. I’m glad that I’ve at least reconnected with the music that we shared during those special summers.

Day 74, £715 donated so far

After an extensive debate this morning about each other’s cleaning skills, my mum and I decided it would be appropriate to make amends by listing five things we in fact like about one another. I realised this was a tall order when “you do a good weekly food shop” was her third point for me.

Aside from the occasional bit of friction on trivial matters I enjoy being in lockdown with my mum. She and I don’t spend much time together – it seems we only meet for dinner and to watch the weekend government briefings – but neither of us feel lonely being in our own company for the rest of the time. There is a general feeling of comfort and ease between us that I do not take for granted.

I started to research how people are coping with loneliness during lockdown when I was surprised to read that a 2016 survey from the British Red Cross and Co-op identified that young people suffer from feeling lonely more than any other age group. Belong, an initiative from the Co-op Foundation that was started after that survey, is focused on beating loneliness in young people through a series of programs centered on connection and social action. I have donated £20 to their cause to end this suffering for such a vulnerable demographic.

In a moment of unprecedented candour my mum listed “you care about me” as the fifth item on her list. It’s of course true that I do. I feel it is a real privilege to care about someone and to have someone care about you too. So, in an equal turn of events, I stated that as the fifth item on my list too and I’m pleased to say we were back to being friends before midday.

Day 53, £695 donated so far

I had mixed feelings about my undergraduate placement year in a scientific research lab. I was the lone team member of my supervisor who had, incidentally, started at the company on the same day as me. I was only doing the placement year to get some work experience on my CV and, already sure that I didn’t want to pursue a career in research, I felt highly unqualified to be someone’s sole lab research assistant.

My supervisor was office based but he briefly popped in to the lab once a day. While I was content passing my time in the company of the lab technicians, his visits to the lab were always the highlight of my day. He never came in to ask about my progress – which was certainly appreciated – only to share a new experiment he’d been looking into. I would tell him about my day, my life, my thoughts while he tried to demonstrate the new techniques to me. He never stopped in his work to look and listen to me but I knew from his departing remarks that he had heard everything I’d said. I would ponder his words – and his usual gentle encouragement – for the rest of the day.

My supervisor and I became wonderful friends over the course of that year and I feel reassured knowing I can still reach out to him. It is my hope for others to have this life comfort too. I have donated £10 to ReachOut to help this to happen. ReachOut is a UK based mentoring charity working with young people from disadvantaged backgrounds to support them through the complexities of life by providing a role model and team activities.

I know my supervisor is too modest to accept that his thoughtful remarks that year gave me lifelong perspective, not only on my career, but in several other aspects of my life. I am fortunate to have met him – even if he drew the short straw with me and my lab skills – and I am hopeful for other young people to find their support network to gently support them through life challenges too.

Day 35, £685 donated so far

Oh my, the last seven days have been exhausting. What started out as a twinge in my leg quickly developed into a pain disco of numbness, pins and needles, and sharp bolts while I also developed other symptoms on an almost daily basis.

I have read that up to 40% of the UK population suffer with chronic pain in their lifetime. Chronic pain is defined as persistent pain for a period of greater than 12 weeks despite medication or treatment. I couldn’t find the official UK statistics for chronic pain but this might be because it appears chronic pain is controversially regarded as a symptom only of other diseases and it is not classified as a disease of its own.

The Pain Relief Foundation is a UK charity which, along with funding research, also provides education to medics and patients about the treatment of chronic pain. I know I am fortunate that I can mostly continue with my day-to-day activities with the therapies I’ve been prescribed. I have donated £10 to support The Pain Relief Foundation so that, one day, this can be the case for everyone.

Amritsar

I have wanted to do seva, the Sikh term for selfless service, at Harmandir Sahib in Amritsar, India, since I was eight years old. I had arranged to spend a week there this year but my travel plans were sadly cancelled due to the virus pandemic.

Amritsar, a city with a population of over one million, is also the main residence of Pingalwara, a charitable organisation of rescue homes for India’s abandoned portion of society. Over the years I have joined my mum and many others in donating to this cause each time the UK fundraising volunteer put out a call for action. However I must confess that I never took the time to learn about the origins of the Pingalwara organisation or their work.

I recently watched Eh Janam Tumhare Lekhe, a real life account of Bhagat Puran Singh Ji who, fuelled by the injustice suffered by his widow mother, dedicated his entire life to save other vulnerable people. He fought adversity and prejudice from the moment he started on his journey as a lone teenager up until the day he passed away aged 88 in 1992. His legacy is the Pingalwara organisation which now, with its seven branches, can home 1700 people and offer them a fair chance at life through education, healthcare and ongoing support. In the film Bhagat Puran Singh Ji says: “One cannot come to Pingalwara just to see it. They must come to serve here”.

I was disappointed when my long awaited trip to Amritsar couldn’t go ahead this year. However I feel blessed to have now seen Eh Janam Tumhare Lekhe and observed how, a single person determined for equality, created a lifelong infrastructure to support the vulnerable. I will eventually go to Amritsar, and when I do, I will serve at the Pingalwara residence in respect of the life changing lessons I’ve learned from Bhagat Puran Singh Ji’s actions.

Day 30, £675 donated so far

I love waking up to a WhatsApp chat full of photos of my sister’s and brother-in-law’s 8 month old puppy that they send through to me each night. The photos are invariably of Buddy sleeping camouflaged amongst his dog teddy bears or him memorised by a dog on TV. He looks so cute in all of them.

The photos of him bring me so much joy in normal circumstances. However, during this time of isolation, they’ve almost become a lifeline. A vital distraction. I am not alone in feeling this way. Since the UK went into lockdown, there has been a sharp increase in requests to adopt and foster dogs from animal charities.

I am fortunate that, although I can’t see their puppy in person at the moment, I can video call with him. I love calling his name, seeing his little head tilt trying to establish where my voice is coming from and then watching him bark at the porch door because that’s where I normally call his name when I visit them. It’s the same ritual each time I video call but I’ll never tire of it.

In these challenging times for all charities I have decided to sponsor a dog for £52 for a year through The Dog’s Trust, the UK’s largest dog welfare charity. In fact, as I was signing up, I felt inspired to gift this sponsorship to a friend who longs for a dog of his own. He will get a selection of photos, at least three update letters about his dog and, when the isolation comes to an end, he will be able to visit his new friend. I’m so excited for him to get his surprise welcome pack through the post!

In the meantime I will continue to forward all my puppy photos to him each morning for him to enjoy and I know he will continue to share them with his nieces to enjoy too. I simply love that, while we’re all in isolation and sharing his adorable photos, Buddy has no idea that he is – as his name suggests – bringing so much happiness by being everyone’s little friend.

Day 27, £623 donated so far

I pleaded with my supervisor to extend the helpline hours on the evening when my helpline log listed only snap calls. This is the term we used on the helpline when someone called but hung up as soon as they heard a voice. It is not uncommon for helpline callers to make a few snap calls before building up the courage to talk.

I had received snap calls before but, on that Thursday evening, I’d only logged snap calls on my sheet and each one had lasted progressively longer than the last. I felt someone was getting closer and closer to reaching out for support and I wanted desperately to ensure we were still available until they made their breakthrough call that night.

I volunteered for two years on the helpline of Survive. Survive is a regional UK charity that provides support to adults who survived sexual abuse during their childhood years. The organisation began in 1990 as a female support group for women, registering as a charity in 1997 and, most recently, extending its services to support men over the last 10 years.

A decade has passed since I took my last call with Survive. I cannot put into words how much I learned during my time on the helpline but I will share that the lesson on true listening has never left me. It is a wonderful feeling to listen to someone without any intent except to understand about their life. It is a wonderful feeling to be heard in this way too.

I have donated £15 to Survive in honour of the 15 minutes my supervisor extended the helpline window on that day. After one more snap call, I did answer a call to someone who spoke to me. I’ll never know if it was the person who had made the snap calls but I’m reassured that we made a difference to one more life that night and that is still a difference.

Day 24, £608 donated so far

More than a fifth of the World is on lockdown to save hundreds of thousands of lives from COVID-19. Each day we’re reminded that staying home is the single way in which we can all contribute to the global fight against this disease. I understand it but I can’t stop thinking about those, for whom, their home isn’t the place of safety it should be.

Refuge supports adults and children in the UK against domestic abuse. On the first Saturday of the UK lockdown, Refuge reported a 65% increase in calls to their national domestic abuse helpline. There was also a reported increase in traffic to their website and the websites of similar organisations. The UK statistics for domestic abuse are unbearable to read and I’m fully aware these numbers are only the reported cases.

It is wonderful to see that increased financial support has been provided by some governments and government websites have been updated to offer more help. I have donated £100 to Refuge and I’ve also volunteered for their helpline. I know it is all vital to keeping more people safe and well during this global crisis.

Day 21, £508 donated so far

It was the best surprise when I received a handwritten letter from a friend exactly five weeks ago today. I recall the date because it was Pancake Day and the envelope had the Royal Mail stamp commemorating the special occasion. I remember how instantly excited I felt when I saw the letter amongst the usual post of advertisements and bills. I tore it open, sat in the stairs and devoured every word. I’m sure I’ve read it a hundred times over since then.

I wanted to share that glorious feeling of receiving something special in the post with someone. I discovered Post Pals today. Post Pals was set up in 2002 by unwell teenagers who found that receiving cards in the post was the only thing that made them smile when they were feeling isolated due to their illnesses. The charity supports seriously ill children aged 3-17 in the UK and their siblings by providing a service where one can offer support and friendship through cards, letters and small gifts by selecting a child on their Pal list.

The story of each Pal is deeply heartwarming. The family members share their experiences of the initial diagnosis, the adjustment period and the ongoing challenges of managing the illness. The most beautiful part for me is the theme that – throughout all their hard times – the children are happy, bursting full of hobbies and joyfully hopeful for the future. The feeling I have to offer some assistance in keeping these children smiling is powerful.

I have donated £10 to support Post Pals in their initiatives of sending newsletters to the children and comfort packages to their families. I have also organised for small gifts to be sent to two of the children. I know I won’t get the chance to see their reactions when they receive their gifts but it’s okay. I’m just happy knowing the gifts will brighten up their day and have a lasting impact just as my special letter will always have for me.

Day 19, £471 donated so far

I dedicate this post to my cousin – who incidentally has the same initials of SS as others featured in my posts – in honour of his fortieth birthday this weekend.

SS is a gem. He is the eldest of our group of cousins and he has always looked out for us. He never refuses when anyone needs a lift, he always shares vouchers for saving money on lunch and, if you’re fortunate to meet him on your commute, he ensures you get a seat even if you firmly insist on standing. It’s guaranteed that, while he’s helping you, you’ll be lovingly lectured on the importance of being more responsible in life but I know we all secretly delight in his speeches.

I distinctly remember SS’s first trip abroad as a teenager when he went to Germany on a week long placement. Only SS, of everyone in our group, would do what he did. He returned with a unique meaningful present for each of us. He gifted me the soundtrack CD for Romeo & Juliet because he remembered that was the only film I’d ever seen twice in the cinema. I’m sure he must’ve spent all of his savings and a lot of his placement time on purchasing our gifts but I know it wouldn’t have mattered to him at all.

It didn’t surprise me when I discovered that SS had organised for slices of his birthday cake to be left outside our front doors this weekend. We couldn’t physically celebrate his birthday together but we all celebrated in spirit because of his thoughtful gesture. It also didn’t surprise me when he replied “don’t worry, just be happy” to my question of which charity I could donate to in his honour.

I combined two of SS’s passions when I chose a charitable cause on his behalf. SS loves children and teaching them in a wonderfully engaging way, and he loves football. So I have donated £40, in honour of his milestone birthday, to Football Beyond Barriers. FBB support young people from disadvantaged backgrounds who are passionate about football but disengaged at school in order to help them finish school with the skills and grades to make a successful transition into adulthood. I feel FBB’s objective is a perfect match to SS’s life values.

Wishing you a very happy birthday, SS. YNWA.

Day 17, £431 donated so far

One of my favourite things about this my1825 project is how much I’m learning about the World. I am learning about the people and the causes that I am supporting, family and friends are sharing their wonderful stories about volunteering and I’m reading more blogs than before and learning about acts of kindness all over our planet. It’s very humbling.

Today I have been moved to action by a beautiful 10 year old with a very caring heart. My friend’s daughter will use her time at home, while the UK schools are closed, to grow her hair with the view of donating it to an organisation that can provide free wigs to children who have sadly lost their hair due to cancer. She has wanted to do this for a while and – upon listening to her mother’s advice – has been meticulous in keeping her hair in good health by conditioning it. I am in absolute awe of her determination to help others and to do it well.

I did some research into hair donations and found The Little Princess Trust. TLPT was established in 2006 by Simon and Wendy Tarplee in loving memory of their daughter, Hannah, who passed away from paediatric cancer. TLPT provide hundreds of free wigs each year to young people who have lost their hair due to medical reasons. Since 2016, through their phenomenal fundraising efforts, they have also been funding research into paediatric cancer. I was joyed to read that Kate Middleton donated seven inches of her hair to TLPT.

In my last post I mentioned that I will reduce the pace of my electronic donations to reserve some funds for in person ones. However I was so touched by my friend’s daughter’s quest that I felt compelled to show my support. I will also grow my hair during the UK lockdown but, knowing that this won’t make much progress for me, I have donated £5 to the TLPT. It’s more important to me that I can help put a smile on someone’s face than it is to keep to my approach. So I will reduce the amount, but not the pace, of my donations.

Thank you, SS (a different one from Day 1), for reminding me about the importance of working each day towards making a difference. Now, let the hair growing race begin!

my first t-shirt

In my first blog post I explained the objective of the my1825 project: To make regular in person donations over 12 months. I aspired to donate £5, in person, each day, achieving an annual donation total of £1825. However due to the current social distancing measures because of COVID-19, I have not managed to follow my ambition very closely at all. I have made donations but mostly electronic ones and – when making these – I’ve personally found it more appropriate to donate more than £5 each time. As a result I’m at the end of week two of this initiative and I’ve already donated 23% of the target amount.

I’ve decided that – while the UK is on lockdown for the next three weeks – I will reduce the pace of donations to reserve funds for the in person donations per my original intention but I will continue with writing the frequent blog posts because I enjoy it. In fact I was considering what to write about today when – yes, you may have guessed it – the answer presented itself to me, this time, on my electronic doorstep via my email inbox.

It was an email from Rapanui, a sustainable clothing line based on the Isle of Wight. I bought my first super stylish, ethically sourced, environmentally friendly jumper from them a few years ago. That jumper changed my life. I will share that beautiful story in a future post but, for now, I will tell you about Rapanui’s email.

Rapanui print and ship t-shirts for over 100 charities as a revenue generating stream for them. However with charities having to cancel many of their fundraising events due to COVID-19, Rapanui have very generously decided to reallocate £100k of their advertising fund to support the valuable work of these charities during this challenging period. Incredible.

Their email reminded me of the dream I mentioned in my first blog post: That the my1825 project becomes a movement. A movement of people executing their own version of my1825 – be that donations or time or acts of kindness – each making a difference to the World every day. When I had that dream, I envisaged everyone wearing t-shirts emblazoned with my1825 project text. I stepped closer to that vision today by using Rapanui’s custom t-shirt platform to design and order the first ever my1825 project t-shirt! I am beyond excited for it to arrive.

I am forever thankful to Rapanui for continuing to change my life for the better and for allowing me to join them in making a difference to the lives of others. Thank you.

Day 12, £426 donated so far

As a child I was always most excited when my mum received a letter from the child she was sponsoring via Plan International.

It was exhilarating to learn about the life of another child in a different country through their heartfelt letters, happy photos of them with their family and their colourful drawings depicting their favourite hobbies. I remember that my mum would place their photos on the cabinet right next to our own childhood ones. It felt like we were one family.

I know my mum has sponsored multiple children over the past 30 years. I must’ve been in my early 20s when I asked my mum about her sponsorship. I asked her why she donated to this cause on a monthly basis when, as a working class single parent, it would’ve been completely understandable if this was not a priority to her. “I thought that if I can help someone to raise their children, then maybe God will help me to raise mine”.

The UK is celebrating Mother’s Day today. I have chosen to use this special occasion to continue my mum’s legacy in sponsoring a child. I have just signed up to sponsor a child through the same organisation by donating £19.50 per month for the next 12 months. I now eagerly anticipate the arrival of my own letters to learn about the new child joining my extended family.

Happy Mother’s Day, Kam. You’re an inspiration.

Day 10, £192 donated so far

I was moved by The One Show‘s segment about food banks on Thursday evening. There was one comment, in particular, that impacted me. One of the food bank users, a parent, expressed her concern that, as the UK’s nurseries and schools close for the foreseeable future and the children of non-key workers will stay at home, she simply cannot afford to feed her children three meals a day.

My local food bank website states that 90% of the food they distribute comes directly from public donations of food items. I think it is reasonable to assume that the donations to my local food bank and others are very limited at the moment but the demand is on the rise.

I have decided that until the response to this pandemic can be relaxed, each time I go food shopping, I will be more mindful of my purchases and, wherever possible, I will use my ration to buy items to give to a food bank. I did this for the first time today spending £12 on the most needed items listed on my local food bank’s website: cereal bars, instant noodles and tinned vegetables. I will make the donation on Monday.

Thank you to The One Show for raising awareness of this important cause.

easyfundraising®

In my last post I stated that we are presented with countless opportunities to make donations every time we leave our homes.  I feel I need to correct myself on this.  The impact of our current pandemic on this is visible.  There is now a distinct absence of fundraisers on our high streets. 

It is understandable that we are all occupied with personal survival and that of our loved ones during this turbulent time. Although our social media feeds are full of beautiful stories about kindness – anecdotes of communities pulling together to support those who are most vulnerable – I wonder how charities are faring during this time. I can only imagine that, at a time when they need to support the vulnerable population the most, they have dwindling resources (donations and volunteers) for this vital work.

I recently downloaded the easyfundraising® app to raise money for a primary school. easyfundraising® generates revenue via affiliate marketing. For each time you connect to a retailer’s website via the app and make a purchase, the retailer pays a small commission to easyfundraising®, 50% of which goes directly to the cause you are supporting as a total every three months. The cost of an item on a retailer’s website is exactly the same as if you went to the retailer’s website directly. I am sure there are other organisations using this fundraising model but it seems easyfundraising® is the UK’s largest with over 4000 retailers and over £31 million raised so far. Wow!

This is an amazing cost free way of raising money to support a charity that is important to you. It is particularly important as online shopping becomes more and more common. The UK’s Office for National Statistics states that 20% of UK retail sales in January 2020 were executed online, an increase of 8.2% over the last five years.

On a personal note: I do wonder if easyfundraising® can work with our major UK supermarkets to, at least temporarily, increase their commission on this platform so that, while we navigate this health crisis and online grocery shopping is at its absolute peak as a result, we can continue to raise funds to support the valuable work of our charities while our streets are looking quite bare.

Day 6, £180 donated so far

I made my first in person donation 10 minutes ago! Woo-hoo! This is exciting within itself but it’s doubly exciting because I was eager to achieve this milestone before this blog turned one week old tomorrow. I did it and with a few hours to spare. Oh yes!

I know my reaction seems a little excessive in its celebration. There’s a reason for that: I am feeling a tremendous sense of relief. I had been feeling uncomfortable that I hadn’t made a single in person donation yet. However, if I’m being truthful, I know that I’d been purposefully delaying from the outset because I didn’t actually know how to start this part.

I appreciate that the concept is straightforward. We are all presented with countless opportunities to give donations every time we walk down our local high street. When I considered putting some change into a donation box or signing up for a monthly direct debit to support a cause, I felt strangely empty at the thought of it. It felt too impersonal to me. In fact I was beginning to feel foolish that I’d made this my1825 commitment but I didn’t know how to do it.

An excellent article appeared in my news feed two days ago. It was an article about care packages. A care package is a collection of items that is gifted to someone who would benefit from it. The article immediately lit something inside me. It felt right.

I raced to research my local homeless shelter and then called to ask them which supplies they needed. I was expecting for them to tell me something from the common list of care package items for homeless people: snacks, water, toiletries. “I know it might surprise you. We need backpacks”.

I learnt today that, for budgetary reasons, many homeless shelters are not able to operate a night shelter all year round. They prioritise to offer this service during the coldest months but, as May approaches, my local homeless shelter will have to cease this service until October. In preparation for this hiatus, the shelter is helping its guests to pack up their belongings to carry with them until autumn, when they can safely store their belongings at the shelter again. I was saddened to realise that many homeless people resort to using carrier bags for this purpose and, despite their best efforts, are not able to save their belongings from damage. To offer support I spent £85 to buy five large backpacks to at least help those who are in most need.

I wish to say thank you to the London Homeless Welfare Team (LHWT) for raising awareness of their valuable work and helping me to overcome my barrier to making a hands on difference. Thank you also to my little sister who was an absolute whizz at finding the most suitable backpack and did so with great passion.

boaster posters

I spent my morning creating a full boaster poster for my friend. It felt surreal. He has always inspired me and yet, when I spoke to him earlier this week, he was sadly questioning his worth.

I was 11 when I received my first boaster poster. Mrs Hudson tasked the entire class with this activity. I took a blank A3 sheet from the front desk, decoratively wrote my name in the centre and then started the cycle for every classmate to add their comment. There was only one rule: To write something that you like about each person on their sheet and pass it on.

I was full with apprehension when we were on the last round. I would soon see my completed boaster poster and know what everyone thought of me. We were finally asked to pass the sheets back to their owners. The suspense was unbearable.

Every single comment on my sheet told me I was funny. I was deflated. It was not the image I was hoping for as an 11 year old at a new school. When I later confided in Mrs Hudson that I felt sad no-one had written that they thought I was smart, had a nice pencil case or even clear handwriting (as I had done for my peers), she reassured me that bringing happiness to people is a valuable quality and I should always be proud of myself for it.

Whether you’re an 11 year old starting at a new school or a 38 year old reflecting on your life, we all sometimes need reminding of our worth. I ask everyone to create a boaster poster for someone who needs some encouragement. You can even create one for yourself. It’s a powerful act of kindness to help someone remember how uniquely special they are to the World.

Day 4, £95 donated so far

It’s my nan’s birthday this weekend. She’s holidaying in India so I thought I would celebrate in her honour by contributing to this endeavour. My nan also wouldn’t want me to spend any money on her. Each time I’ve tried to celebrate her birthday – even with a single shared slice of egg-free birthday cake – she has fiercely objected, telling me that she doesn’t need anything as long as she has me. I’m aware it’s an expression but I choose to take it literally. (It’s an amazing feeling but it is a big responsibility for someone who also needs to focus on managing their new blog.)

My nan is in her 70s. She was born in the Punjab during a time when accurate recording of birth dates and years was uncommon. Based on the age of my mum and my nan’s siblings, I am confident that my nan is in her 70s but we’ll never truly know if March is indeed her birthday month. I’ve studied her behaviour in depth to see if she exhibits the characteristics of a Pisces and I’m not convinced she does. I would personally say she’s more of an Aries.

I distinctly remember a day, over 25 years ago when I was no older than 10, when my nan was taking care of my siblings and me during half-term. We lived in a three storey house at that time so, when the doorbell rang that day, I offered to answer it leaving my nan and siblings in the living room on the first floor. It was a courier delivering my nan’s medication. He handed me a paper bag before taking out his clipboard holding a form and asking me her age. I told him. “I think she’s 199”. He wrote down the answer and left. When I gave the bag to my nan she was surprised that the courier didn’t ask for the payment for her prescription. Why would he? At 199 she comfortably qualified for free medication courtesy of the NHS.

I’ve been guilt-ridden ever since that I swindled our precious NHS that day when I innocently attempted to guess my nan’s age. It is now time for me to right that wrong.

So, in honour of my nan’s birthday, I have made a donation to the NHS. I have donated the current day cost of a prescription, £9, to the hospital where she had a knee replacement surgery a few years ago. Her consultant for the procedure, Mr James Smith, was exceptional. He was attentive, kind and extraordinarily talented. He and the nursing team took wonderful care of my nan.

I wish you a very happy birthday, nan. It doesn’t matter if you’re in your 70s or a double centenarian, you’re an absolute legend.

Day 3, £86 donated so far

While COVID-19 persists as a global threat and also reduces my opportunities for making in person donations, I have decided to continue with electronic ones for the time being.

A beautiful occasion presented itself to me, this time, on my literal doorstep, when I opened an envelope with a partially completed address to find a very touching letter to my mum from her friend, Tess.

I read the letter. I also took a photo of it and sent it to my brother and sister. I’m now also writing about said letter in my blog.

Tess is 79. She first wrote to my mum last year, almost 15 years after their factory closure forced them to seek alternative employments and ultimately cease their communication, to tell of losing her only daughter to heart failure. Tess started that letter with “I hope you don’t mind me sending you this note, I have some terrible news” and closed it with “you and I have always been friends so I thought I would tell you”. I admit I had heartache by the end. I was overcome with sadness for Tess and her loss and full of such pride that my mum was the person Tess contacted with whom to share her grief.

I have been inspired by Tess’s letters to donate to Friends of the Wisdom Hospice, the fundraising arm of The Wisdom Hospice. I did a brief voluntary stint on their ward as a teenager. I spent my week there serving tea and having conversations with the patients as I did the rounds. While it’s questionable if I added any value during my time there – thinking back to my 16 year old self, I’m not sure I was qualified to do either of my duties particularly well – I am eternally thankful for the experience.

The Wisdom Hospice, like all other hospices, does phenomenal work in ensuring all patients, their families and their carers do not feel alone and are physically and emotionally supported during a very challenging time in their lives. I have donated £50 to support them in achieving their vision and I have also purchased an adorable Olly Owl keyring from their online store.

I will finish this post today by saying thank you to Royal Mail for continuing to decipher the address on each of Tess’s letters and successfully delivering them to my mum. They helped to reconnect a wonderful friendship at the time it was needed the most. Thank you.

Day 1, £36 donated so far

It’s as if the Universe approved my quest when the perfect first donation opportunity landed on my virtual doorstep through a WhatsApp status post. A particularly meaningful one too. Keep reading.

A dear colleague, who will be doing her first cycling marathon in a few months, has decided to use the event to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support. MCS, along with the wonderful people at her local hospital, provided exceptional care to her beloved grandfather who sadly passed away in January 2020. I deeply admire my colleague for using this experience to motivate her to achieve her upcoming physical feat.

Undoubtedly like others embarking on a new endeavour I had my doubts before I started this blog. Namely I questioned if a blog was a good use of my time and if I was too old, at 36, to be starting a personal blog years after the World seems to have moved on to newer platforms.

I take reassurance from the uncanny timing of the WhatsApp post from my colleague, who I not only hold in high regard for her work ethic but also for her confidence in being true to herself, that the my1825.com blog is a worthwhile pursuit. With that in mind I have donated £36 to her cause and I’ve also achieved my first milestone.

Thank you, SS, for inspiring me and for helping me to kick start my journey in a remarkable way.