Covid-19 and the restrictions it has brought are the enemies of mental wellbeing. Fear, worry, boredom and loneliness are just some of the feelings many of us now experience on a day-to-day basis. Even now, more than a month into our third national Lockdown, a return to the life we used to know seems a long way off.
This is bad enough if you have nothing else to trouble you. But, for many people, this is not their reality. Imagine, for a moment, you live with acute anxiety and wake up every day feeling literally sick with terror. Or that you're suffering with Bipolar, exhausted but unable to rest, bracing yourself for the next debilitating crash. Or that you disassociate and sometimes don't know who you are, where you are or how you will ever reconnect. Or imagine that you have a compulsion, to do something or consume something, which is systematically destroying everything you have. It's taking your money, your time, your health, your relationships, your decisions and your personality. You're no longer sure where 'it' ends and you begin.
For many years, people experiencing mental health difficulties have been encouraged to 'get out more'; to go to groups, to mix with others, to build social networks and take a break from their internal battles. For many people, this has been their medicine, their treatment, their trump card in an unseen game of poker. The activities and collaborative projects they have joined have enabled them to define themselves in ways not connected to their medical records. They have become artists, musicians, writers, debaters, volunteers and global citizens. They have become individuals with purpose and a place in the world.
Now many of these activities have been swept away and gaping holes have appeared in many lives. And these holes are dangerous. Mental health conditions are extremely good at filling voids; they can take as much space in a life as there is space to fill. They are elastic. We are told, "this is not for ever, the tide will turn and things will get back to normal". But no one can say when that will be and, when your head is a prison, what you really need is a release date.
The Big Lift is an emotional rescue project for people hemmed in by a combination of Lockdown restrictions and their personal circumstances. It has been designed by people who understand mental health, physical health, poverty and isolation and the interplay between these factors. It is driven by an understanding of why we need to act and to act now.
Of course, reaching out to people safely is, in the current climate, extremely challenging, especially when you want to include people who can't get online. However, we think we've found a way to do it. Each 'lift' we provide will involve delivering 'kindness in a box' to someone who needs it. What goes into each box will be determined by what we know about the recipient and what we have to give. There'll be handwritten messages, ideas, activities and small gifts. There'll be messages of hope, and an invitation to join a positive community which will support its members to socialise in person as soon as it is safe to do so. There'll be encouragement to get involved and provide a 'lift' to others.
At present, no one is funding this work and this is why we are asking for your help. We are a thrifty bunch and can provide a 'lift' to someone who's suffering for every £10 we receive. Not a lot really for something which might reverse a downward spiral - or even save a life.
There are other ways to help too. Perhaps you have an uplifting book which you've enjoyed and want to pass on, or an unwanted Christmas present which might bring a smile to someone's face. Maybe you're a crafter who could put together a kit or donate some spare materials. Perhaps you've survived your own battles with adversity and could write some messages of empathy and support. There is plenty of space in our caring community and our 'lift' can be as big and broad as donations allow. You might also know someone who needs a 'lift' and want us to create a pack for them.
We are based in the centre of Ipswich and, from there, will reach as far as we can. We guarantee that every £ raised here will go directly to where it is needed.
Please help us make our lift as BIG and bold as it can be.
The Big Lift is a project run by the Wise Minds team at Volunteering Matters. We can be contacted using the details below: