Mike Howlett and The LockDown Team are aiming to raise £1500 for The Care Workers Charity...
It's funny how ideas come to you out of the blue. I was in the river at the bottom of our garden, clearing out a community of nettles on the bank, and for no reason that I can recall, remembered a book of cartoons, many years ago, by the late artist/author Simon Bond called '101 Uses for a Dead Cat'. (You probably have to be of a certain age to remember it - I was 73 in May). I'd been incensed by news of what a rotten deal the care workers in this country have been getting - for years, not just recently - and had been vaguely trying to think of ways I could help. After all, like so many of us now, I'm not so far off needing their services myself... So help came in the form of a seemingly random memory.
Those plays on words of Simon Bond's book lit up the light bulb over my head, and it was obvious what to do next: compile a small book of cartoons based on the words 'lock' and 'down' (but not overtly linked to Covid-19 - we're trying to lighten the mood!), and to sell it in support of these 'Guardian Angels of our Later Years'. I can't draw, but friends and my wife Sue can, so I drew up a list of words to attach a cartoon to and set about convincing others to help. It wasn't difficult - we're all angry about how these unsung heroes continue to be treated. Even now they're not getting the support from the Government they so richly deserve.
At this point I realised that a lot had to happen all at once: ideas for cartoons, the drawing of them, collating, printing and publishing them, how to sell the book, distribution deal/s, getting the charity on board, etc. etc. The first step was to get an idea from Gipping Press, local to me, of the cost of printing the first 500 copies of the (probably) 5" square, 100-page paperback, half in colour and half black and white to cater for artists' individual styles. [It will now be A5 in size, 100-pages - see update]. We've had the extraordinary luck to get the brilliant cartoonist Edward McLachlan on board, and a tie-up with Goldcrest Books, who will be making sure it's published to a professional standard and won't disgrace the shelves of a High St bookstore.
£1500 will cover the cost of printing the first run of 500, including postage and packaging fees for free books to our top donors and to the artists who have made it possible. 100% of the sales proceeds - and any funding residue - will go to the CWC or to produce more copies of the book. A book is an enduring thing: people still remember Simon Bond's 'Dead Cat' book from 50 years ago! The Little Book of Lockdown will be both funny and poignant, a reminder, in all our tomorrows, of this extraordinary year of 2020.
Given the numbers of copies we are dealing with, we may not be lucky enough to get a bookseller distribution deal, but it will be on sale from as many outlets as we can muster, including social media, its own website and individual book stores.
The Care Workers Charity (CWC), based in Vauxhall, London, looks after the interests of many of the two million care workers in the UK, among the poorest paid workers in the UK. The charity desperately needs funds to provide grants of financial aid to care workers in crisis need themselves. EU nationals comprise 8% of frontline care workers in the UK, but with Brexit looming , the current 12% vacancy rate is only likely to worsen. The NHS is receiving the lion’s share of charitable funding at the moment – and rightly so – but The CWC should have an equal call on our generosity, given their equally unbeatable dedication to our well-being in later life.
So we are looking to fund the initial print run of 500 copies. Unfortunately there can be no half-measures: if we can't raise the full amount, the project will die and the money be returned to the donors. If, however, we should be over-subscribed, we will be able to print more copies. A lot of good people are working to make this little book a reality, so please show your support for the Care Workers, these under-valued members of our society, these angels without wings, who are even now risking their lives to help those at greatest risk – the elderly, the lonely, the housebound, the frightened.
When you've kindly sent us a small contribution, please add the link to this funding page on your Facebook page, and tell all your friends and family. Contributions of £20 or more will enable us to send you a free copy of the book when it is printed - please make sure we have your name and address! In addition, we have added other awards, hopefully making contributions to this small fund an attractive prospect for donors.
IMPORTANT! Time is of the essence, and it will take our main illustrator, Keith Smith of Streatham, S. London a fair time to do many of the cartoons himself. If any of you reading this would like to contribute a cartoon for the book, please email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) for a list of 'lockdown' words that we feel will make amusing cartoons (or choose your own). Each contribution will be credited, of course, and you will retain copyright on your work AND receive a free copy. If contributors can submit say, 5-10 drawings each, full colour or black and white, we may be able to divide the subsequent book into sections for each contributor, preferably with a small picture and a paragraph or two as biography.
Thank you so much for reading this - wish us luck in our endeavour!