SSK Annual Wrap-Up 2018!

Somebody pinch me… are we really approaching the end of 2018 already?! Where on Earth has this year gone? Coming up to the New Year can only mean one thing: time for a cheeky wrap-up of everything us SSK folks got up to this year! Grab yourself a cuppa, get yourself comfy, and enjoy…

So, we kicked off our 2018 in January by announcing our fundraising with a brand new chosen charity: Crohns and Colitis UK. They’re a wonderful organisation doing brilliant things, and Corporate Partnerships Officer Rachel Covey was an absolute joy to work with. A cracking start to the year!

Black and white headshot image of long haired girl holding Spoonie Survival Kit and 'thank you' card
Image Credits: Katherine Stainer

The next few months saw business as usual, with a few advocacy shenanigans along the way. Particular highlights included running our small fundraising gift swap, Project Spoonie Valentine with the team at Project Parent, speaking with the Scope Stories team and featuring in a piece about acts of kindness, and our lovely volunteer Katherine writing about her 7 ways of supporting a friend with chronic illness.

Before we knew it, May was upon us and ME Awareness Month had rolled around again. We decided that this year, our chosen cause would be ME Support: Louise, who runs the site, has been such a loyal supporter of SSK right from the beginning, and it was a privilege to be able to give something back. Over the course of the month, we donated 50% of sales money from all blue items on our Etsy page to ME Support, raising £82.45 to help them continue their work.

It was also around this time of year that we tried something new, to mark both ME and Fibromyalgia Awareness Week. Our fabulous volunteer Nikki put together an Instagram photo challenge, and it was such a delight to see people far and wide sharing their images with us and talking about their experiences of chronic illness. I hope this is something we can continue in the future too!

blue journal cover with binding down left side and 'dear chronic illness, compiled by pippa stacey' inscribed on the front in boldNow, June 2018 is a month that will never be forgotten. Even sitting here typing this now, half a year later, it still doesn’t feel real to say that we published a book. There’s an actual physical (and digital!) book with our name on it, out in the world right now… what the heck?! Dear Chronic Illness, our charity book, was released on the 14th June 2018, and has elicited five-star reviews and an abundance of kind words ever since. I’m still so eternally grateful to Leesa Wallace from Wallace Publishing for making this happen, and for giving us a much needed source of income: all of our royalties from the book are used to fund Spoonie Survival Kits and cover the costs of running the enterprise. You can find out more about Dear Chronic Illness, and its 16 wonderful contributors, in our blog post. If you’ve read it yourself, we’d absolutely LOVE to hear what you think!

Business as usual commenced over the summer months. We’re so fortunate that our Kits are popular year round, but in July we also brought out something new: Sterling Silver Spoonie Necklaces. And let me tell you, they gave, and continue to give, the Kits a run for their money. I cannot begin to express how special it is to see recipients proudly wearing their necklaces and telling others how much they love them: it’s always handy to have an extra spoon for when you’re running low…

pippa holding fundraising certificate and smilingWe wrapped up September having reached and donated our target of £500.00 to Crohns and Colitis UK, and moved on to our next chosen cause. This next one meant a lot to all of us here at Spoonie Survival Kits: we chose Smile For ME, a small charity run by our good friends Alice and Gracey. Again, they were so fabulous to work with, and it was perfect timing to also be their own featured shop of the month for October.

November could only mean one thing, and that was that the somewhat-dreaded ‘C’ word was approaching… and I have to say, our Christmas Kits for 2018 were my favourite ones we’d ever put together. We released the Kits, along with our annual festive Guardian Angel bracelets, and this year we created our own fundraising Christmas Card packs too. Our talented volunteer Nikki of Little Pencil Design created three gorgeous seasonal designs, and all proceeds from the cards were put towards the costs of running SSK.

I can tell you right now that the month of November was an absolute hectic one for us: I knew we had an abundance of orders coming in, but it wasn’t until I sat down to do our finances at the end of the month that I realised just what a thriving month it had been. November 2018 was our busiest month to date since we founded SSK in 2015, and as a result… we hit our £500.00 fundraising target for Smile For ME in less than two months!

christmas kits: white box wrapped up in red ribbon, with red background

It was so unexpected that for the first time ever, I didn’t have our next chosen charity lined up and ready to go in advance. Instead, we had a good think about how to proceed and decided that in the meantime, for the rest of 2018, our chosen cause would once again be Project Parent. We raised £450.00 for them back in 2016, but their work is so meaningful, and it was such a fitting cause for this time of year, that it felt completely right to try and raise some more funds for them to round off our year. We closed for 2018 just before Christmas, having raised a further £284.53… bringing our overall total raised for Project Parent up to £734.53!

And now the even more exciting bit… the flurry of activity we saw in November and December brought Spoonie Survival Kits to a milestone I also didn’t anticipate coming for at least another 6 months: we surpassed a fundraising milestone, and I’m SO ridiculously proud to say we’ve now raised over £5000.00 for various chronic illness charities!!! Our grand total stands at £5113.58 and guys, I could cry just looking at that figure. It represents so much more than a donation to a charity, both for me personally and SSK as an enterprise.

2018 has been bonkers in the best kind of way. As some of you will know, my circumstances changed quite a lot this year, and the last 12 months have seen me trying to balance a new career alongside self-employment, running Spoonie Survival Kits, advocacy, and looking after my own health too. Keeping on top of all things SSK this year has been tough, really tough if I’m being honest, and I’m so grateful to each and every person who’s volunteered their time or come forwards to ask what they can do to help. You are the best kind of people. Our ‘SSK Squad’ is currently in development and something I’m keen to prioritise in the upcoming year, and I hope everybody who belongs to that group knows how special they are.

However, I did want to give special thanks to two people in particular. The first is our lovely Nikki, graphic designer and volunteer extraordinaire. Nikki’s had a bonkers year of her own too, with her small business thriving and a big house move chucked in for good measure. Despite all that, Nikki has consistently given her time and energy to our cause, and we’re beyond lucky to have such a thoughtful and talented human being on our team. I truly don’t know what I would do without her.

And the second person I wanted to thank is somebody who, through choice, has remained very much behind the scenes of SSK: my mum. I’m not exaggerating when I say that were it not for my mum’s involvement, organisation and extra pair of hands, Spoonie Survival Kits would have reluctantly come to an end this year. I have so much gratitude for the time and energy she’s given, even when I’m been an overwhelmed, dictator-ish mess of a human being, and just knowing that she’s there to help makes all the difference in keeping a project like this alive and thriving. If you do happen to read this, Mutti, this is just a reminder of how much I appreciate you and all you do.

So, all that’s left to say now is one more huge thank you, to every single person that’s supported us in any way, shape or form in 2018. Your kindness and support is such a huge part of the reason we do this, and you play an integral role in helping us to make others happy. Our grand total raised currently stands at £5113.58, we’ve dispatched 751 orders to 18 countries around the world, and I cannot wait to see where we go next. We’re off for some much needed rest and recuperation time now, but we’re looking forward to catching up with you in 2019 already. Take care, and here’s to the healthiest and happiest year possible for us all!

Big love, squishy hugs and an abundance spoons,

Pippa x

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