I’m supporting Bipolar UK this Christmas

No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another
~ Charles Dickens

Christmas is about giving.

Sure, it’s nice to receive presents from your loved (and not-so-loved) ones, but nothing beats the warm and fuzzy feeling you get when you brighten someone else’s day with a meaningful gift.

But while we fret about chocolates and jewellery, tinsel and turkeys, it is important to remember that for many people, Christmas can be anything but a joyful time of year.

I may not have much in this world, but I have always sought to ensure my Christmas helps others in need.

So, every year, I buy my Christmas cards from a charity supporting those who may be experiencing a lonely, sad or empty Christmas. The profits then go to helping those who need support both at Christmas and throughout the year.

In recent years, my charity of choice has invariably been the Royal British Legion, for reasons which are, perhaps, obvious.

This year, however, I have decided to support a different good cause.

This year, I am supporting Bipolar UK.

Bipolar disorder is a frightening illness which is seen in between an estimated 1% and 2% of the population. Whilst the highs and lows can be equally as distressing, the extreme lows caused by bipolar mean those who suffer are much more likely to take their own lives.

Bipolar increases the risk of suicide 20 times.

For many people with bipolar – and their families and friends – Christmas will be anything but merry. But Bipolar UK are here to help.

Every year, Bipolar UK support 80,000 individuals through a dedicated support line, network of support groups and more.

For the year ending 31 March 2016, Bipolar UK spent £825,313 (82% of its expenditure) on activities supporting both those with bipolar and their friends, families and work colleagues.

I know that the purchase of a handful of Christmas cards is not exactly a grand gesture. But, as someone with a diagnosis of Bipolar II, I also know how important support is to people in times of crisis.

That’s why every Christmas card I send this year will go some way to providing that support where it is needed the most.

If you would like to support the vital work of Bipolar UK, you can make a donation here.

Gillingham RBL needs your help

The Gillingham Royal British Legion Club needs your help if it is to avoid closure on 30 June.

As reported in today’s Medway Messenger, the club is in financial difficulty and needs your support to keep going.

The club, in Livingstone Road, has been running for 74 years, but has hit hard times in recent years with the difficult financial climate keeping people away.

Now they need to find £40,000 to stay open – otherwise their fundraising efforts for the annual Poppy Appeal will be put in jeopardy.

Jayne Mellor-Mackay, who has been a member for six years, told the Medway Messenger “Last year we raised £50,000 for the Poppy Appeal and we won’t be able to do that next year if we don’t have this club.”

The club is also popular with supporters of Gillingham Football Club, who provide a vital boost on match days before taking the short walk to Priestfield Stadium. Indeed such was the club’s popularity when the Gills faced AFC Wimbledon at the end of the season, the club was forced to turn people away because it had reached capacity.

The club has a special place in my heart – dare I say more so than the recently closed RAFA Club. I have been a member of both the club and branch since I was 18, but I have been a supporter for far longer.

My membership was proposed (at his insistence) by my (now late) grandfather, a Life Vice President of the branch. On that sad day in March 2010, the club openly welcomed our family and friends in to the club for his wake and for the service the branch provided the Standard which will shortly be my duty to bear.

I have volunteered, through my membership of the Air Cadets and since of my own accord, to raise funds for the Poppy Appeal every year since I was 13 (bar 2011 when I was living in Birmingham) and I have been planning since November to take on a bigger role within the local Poppy Appeal.

It will be a sad and heartbreaking day if the club is forced to close and I would add my voice to those echoing around at the moment to support the club.

In particular, I would strongly urge all current club members to attend the forthcoming EGM to discuss the club’s future and anyone else who wants to support the club should contact them directly.

The number of veterans clubs in Medway has dwindled at an alarming rate. It would be a major blow to Gillingham and to Medway to lose the Gillingham Royal British Legion Club as well.

Please sponsor me for the Great Birmingham Run

On Sunday, 21 October, I will once again be donning my bravest pair of feet and tackling the 13.1 mile Great Birmingham Run course!

Readers will recall that I took part in the event last year, dressed as Mickey Mouse, to raise money for the Birmingham Children’s Hospital Charities – completing the course in 4 hours 3 minutes and 7 seconds and coming 11,444th out of 15,000.

Well, this year I am running to raise money for the Medway Towns Branch of the Royal Air Forces Association – and have managed to persuade two other friends and supporters (Matthew Bairnsfather and Siobhan Weston) to join me!

My personal target is £500 – of which I have raised just under £300 so far – and as a trio we are hoping to raise as much as possible for the charity!

So please, if you know us personally and would prefer to sponsor us in person with good old fashioned cash, please get in touch to do so.

If, however, you would rather sponsor us online, please do so at JustGiving.com/AlanRun4RAFA.

Thank you!