RAISING FUNDS FOR THE UK MENTAL HEALTH CHARITY MIND
As I write this in June 2020, our world is terribly afflicted with the Covid-19 pandemic and its on-going impact. The purpose of producing this book of images is to raise funds for a wonderful charity that is striving to relieve the mental suffering caused through the devastating loss of life, the impact of lockdown and loneliness, and the inevitable recession that lies ahead and will affect all of us.
I am not a medic nor a key worker (though like many, I know several of both and hugely value what they are doing) so I have no front-line involvement. So how could I help? There are amazing fund raising activities everywhere in the UK and globally with people using their skills and experience in innovative ways. For me, photography has always been a passion and whilst I can describe myself as no more than an enthusiastic amateur, I decided to use this as a vehicle to raise funds for the current crisis.
I also have a personal story prompting me to raise funds for mental health causes. About 10 years ago, I was struck by depression. From a very happy family environment, in good health and doing well in my career, I pretty much fell off a cliff and suffered two years of utterly dark times. I used every bit of medical help available and with a wonderful supportive family, I managed somehow to cling to some normality. Depression can take a huge toll obviously mentally but also physically, and it took me another three years to feel as if I had recovered. I have broken all sorts of bones and ligaments, but absolutely nothing in my life has compared to the anguish, the despair and the desperation I felt then.
In recent years, mental health has been a little more openly spoken about, perhaps thanks to people like Stephen Fry and also royal support from William, Kate and Harry, but it has forever been an under-invested area. Covid-19 has brought about further huge suffering of course and so I felt mental health, Mind in particular, was my clear cause to try to raise funds and help during lockdown and beyond.
So my project has been to produce a quality photobook, Window on the World, to raise funds for the UK mental health charity Mind.
I have tried to find images I have taken over my digital camera years (2005-2020 plus one image from 1982) that are both enjoyable and interesting to appeal to as wide an audience as possible. You will turn the pages fast in some places but may linger over others. My main goal is that you have some enjoyment in return for your generosity.
Mind is one of the biggest national charities in the UK addressing mental health. Covid-19 is clearly having an enormous impact on the mental wellbeing of people whether their worries are personal health, worries about family and friends, coping with isolation or anxieties about jobs and finances. These worries will likely last beyond the pandemic itself and will certainly continue to result in real suffering. Whilst we may have got over the worst of the pandemic (as I write, infection rates are down but there is nervousness about another wave), we have certainly yet to reach the peak of the mental health crisis, and so must continue to think long term. The lasting effects of trauma and severe economic pressures will be keenly felt by millions – those working on the frontline, people who haven’t had an opportunity to grieve, those who have spent months alone and lonely, young people who had their support network taken away overnight.
Mind's website states "more than half of adults and over two thirds of young people said that their mental health has got worse during the period of lockdown restrictions, from early April to mid-May. Many people do not feel entitled to seek help, and have difficulty accessing it when they do. 1 in 3 adults and more than 1 in 4 young people did not access support during lockdown because they did not think that they deserved support".
Mind has resources from online information through to trained support staff and are a leading and respected source of advice and counsel for mental wellbeing. However, their resources are hugely stretched as the pandemic has halted so many of their fund-raising channels.
My appeal to you therefore is to donate as much as you possibly can. Please go to the Images in the Photobook tab to see the images featured and then, if you would like to, go to the Buy the Charity Photobook tab to select the price option that you are comfortable with (some customers are buying copies not just for themselves but for Christmas and birthday presents!).
I am also delighted to be able to offer a limited edition of copies endorsed and signed by actor, comedian, writer and President of Mind, Stephen Fry. We are asking for a larger donation for these copies. President of Mind since 2011, Stephen has been a tireless campaigner, supporter and advocate for everyone experiencing mental health problems.
Also, Maro Itoje and Courtney Lawes, the England and British Lions rugby internationals as well as Dan Biggar of Wales and the British Lions, have signed a number of copies.
Thank you, David Sykes