Blimey. What a year!
Not to kick things off with too much of a stereotypical beginning, but it really does only seem like yesterday that I sat down to write SSK’s 2016 wrap-up post. Whilst this year has been a bit of a different one for us, with much of it revolving around our relaunch, it’s still been an incredible 12 months that I feel beyond privileged to be able to look back and reflect upon.
In all honesty, we began January 2017 with myself in a bit of a frazzled and burned-out state. It was after sending off our 500th kit order that it began to sink in that the way we were doing things just wasn’t working: it simply wasn’t cost, time, or energy effective, and it was during this month that the very first ideas of a reform were planted, and plans began to be made.
Meanwhile, we carried on to the best of our ability, and enjoyed some great additional opportunities. The first few months of the year saw us join forces with Project Parent and run a couple of online fundraising events, my favourite being our Project Spoonie Valentine gift swap: pairing up chronically ill people all over the country and arranging gift swaps, so that nobody would be excluded on Valentine’s Day. It was the loveliest thing to see people join in and open their gifts, and raise a great deal of necessary funds at the same time. Plotting and planning with Kate and the PP team is always an absolute pleasure, and I’m sure there’ll be more collaborations of this kind in the future.
It was also around this time that I got the shock of my life: finding out that I’d been nominated for Sue Ryder’s 2017 Yorkshire Women of Achievement Awards. Whilst this alone, and the chance to go on BBC Radio Leeds and talk about SSK and M.E Awareness would have been more than enough for me, I was absolutely buzzing to later find out that I’d been shortlisted by the panellists for the award, and attended May’s ceremony as a finalist for the Jane Tomlinson Woman of Courage award. Being in that room surrounded by famous faces and, most importantly, incredible Yorkshire lasses, is something that I’ll never forget, and I cannot thank Naomi enough for initially nominating me. To be associated with something with Jane Tomlinson’s name on it is something that I don’t feel even slightly deserving of, but that I’m incredibly grateful for nevertheless.
As always in May, we put aside some time to contribute towards the M.E Awareness effort. In case you didn’t already know, May is M.E Awareness Month, and being the condition that debilitates me on a daily basis, I’m always keen for SSK to contribute where it can. We sold some special M.E Awareness Kits, with the assistance of Louise at M.E Support, and raised an additional £128.00 for Action For M.E during this month. Do I want to say M.E any more times within one short paragraph, or…?
One of our biggest achievements of the year was finally hitting our fundraising target of £500.00 for POTS UK, and their incredible work. The POTS UK fundraising team were so brilliant to work with, and I wanted to say a particular thank you to Morwenna for all her support and encouragement throughout this process. I really hope the money helps to facilitate the incredible changes in POTS research and awareness that the charity are currently working on.
Another particularly fun event for me personally this year was being the first ever guest on Spoonie PJ Party, a new podcast run by my talented friend Natasha Lipman. Whilst listening back to a recording of my voice isn’t my favourite thing ever (the words ‘Yorkshire-inflected hamster with brainfog’ spring to mind…), I loved discussing SSK, life with chronic illness, accessible employment, theatre trips and more. If you’re looking for a chatty podcast centred around but not exclusively about spoonie shenanigans, definitely give Natasha’s podcast a go.
And then… all went quiet. In total, it took about eight months to get our reform completed and ready to go, but it was during June- October in particular where not a lot appeared to be happening on the surface, but everything was going on behind the scenes. It’s perhaps not always visible just how much work goes into sustaining even the bare minimum requirements of the project, but let me tell you, those were a tough few months. All was 100% worth it, however, when November rolled around and Spoonie Survival Kits relaunched as a social enterprise. In case you missed it, check out our previous blog post for more essential information about the changes we made during our reform. I swear I didn’t sleep for about five days before and after relaunching, anxiously awaiting the response to both the adapted project and the new kits, and as you can imagine, I breathed a huge sigh of relief when the positive feedback started coming in.
So that brings us to now. We’re still very much adapting to our new changes and keeping up with a steady demand for kits, but let me tell you: when I sat down to do November’s finances, our first lot since the relaunch and not even a full month at that, I was absolutely thrilled. Just before I started writing this post, we received confirmation that we’d hit our £500.00 fundraising target for Ehlers-Danlos Support UK, much sooner than expected, and I’m even more buzzing to share with you our next charity… but you’ll have to wait until the New Year before we get to that. I have so much gratitude to each and every person who has supported us since relaunching, because you are the ones, in my eyes, who are primarily responsible for 1) helping to sustain and grow a project that is hopefully bringing about some good and 2) giving me some much-needed peace of mind that the decisions I’ve made this year have been the right ones.
It’s so exciting to think about 2018: we have our next chosen charity ready and raring to go which we will be announcing as soon as we’re back in the New Year, we have some great collaborations with chronically ill entrepreneurs in the pipeline, and there’s something really special happening in February that I cannot WAIT to share with you guys. My goals for the new year, within SSK, are to continue fundraising to our fullest potential, and to find new ways of promoting and rewarding our incredibly special volunteers who dedicate their time and energy towards what we do. I’ve said it before, but if you have any ideas or know of anybody who may be able to assist with this, I would be so grateful if you could let me know.
And there we have it! As always, I wanted to say the biggest thank you to all who have supported Spoonie Survival Kits and our work, these past twelve months more so than ever. I hope each and every one of you has the healthiest and happiest New Year possible, and here’s to raising even more money, awareness and good vibes in 2018!
All my love,
Pippa (SSK Founder) x