I have lived with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis since I was 8 years old and have first hand experience of what it's like to be excluded/isolated from every day activities because of this. Then as a mum, I found myself even more isolated due to the barriers that exist to support and services, and also not being able to attend 'normal' mum and baby activities.
Throughout my life, I have never given up when faced with challenges, have always refused to accept that living with a disability means trying to fit into society's 'norms' and have always strived to create opportunities where there are none, in both my personal and professional life. If doors have been closed to me due to my disability, I have taken a sledgehammer and created my own entry, doing things differently but succeeding just the same.
After over 30 years feeling excluded from truly accessible wellbeing activities, I decided enough was enough. People like me needed proper access to classes and events to feel better, help with pain and be less isolated. It just wasn't acceptable to sit on the sidelines any more and just do the 'bits I could'.
I wanted and indeed was entitled to be able to fully access wellbeing and parent services just like everyone else.
I believed I could so I did.
I gave up my corporate career last year and The Wellbeing Revolution was born in January 2020.
Video: Talkin' 'Bout a Revolution
I gave up my decade long career as Events & Communications Manager for Scotland for Versus Arthritis in order to start my business. In my working life I have always worked in the disability/care/third sector and have a wealth of experience and knowledge about what people with long term conditions REALLY need to help them to live their lives feeling as well as possible and empowered to take control of their conditions. Over the last 5 years I have trained to become an instructor in Chair Yoga, Laughter Yoga, Meditation, Sound Therapy, Forest Bathing and I am about to complete my training as a Life Coach, specialising in pain management and living with chronic conditions.
I launched at the end of January this year, delivering 3 six week Chair Yoga programmes, which have been really successful, with amazing feedback from participants. I have also delivered a Deep Sleep meditation class and had 15 people signed up for Life Coaching. These first community classes filled up really quickly and became oversubscribed, so I had to plan even more classes that would take me right up until the end of summer 2020. I had achieved all of this in the first 7 weeks by word of mouth and a very basic Facebook page. There is a huge need for what I offer. I was so happy. Participants have fedback that one of the main attractions is that I have lived my whole life with a disability, so they feel less barriers to attending and that my courses are a 'safe space' to try out something that they would have been nervous to try out before.
A little video of me: Happiness in Empowering Others
The Wellbeing Revolution was established to reduce isolation and exclusion by delivering classes, courses and events that are accessible to all, particularly people living with long term/musculoskeletal conditions and also disabled parents to enjoy with their babies and toddlers:
The Covid-19 lockdown has meant that my fledgling business has had to close, as classes and courses were community based. I've had to suspend all planned community classes and refund everyone. People who had already started the first 3 courses were feeling so much better that they wanted to continue and so at the moment I'm delivering classes via video clips to participants via mobile phone and email.
I am now currently not earning and am only entitled to basic Jobseekers allowance, as my husband works full time (his role has never been more important as a Keyworker during this pandemic). Due to me been deemed as being in one of the 'vulnerable' groups, at the moment I have to isolate for 3 months, which could extend depending on our success at tackling the virus. I have worked since graduating from university 20 years ago and to now be in this position, when I had just taken the leap of faith to follow my passion, is soul destroying. I have never ever given up in my life, no matter what barriers or difficulties have been put in my way.
My main future focus was to have a website that would allow The Wellbeing Revolution to be accessible to anyone, living anywhere, with a long term/musculoskeletal condition.
However, it's clear that I need to build the website now, to be able to offer my services to the thousands of people who are now isolated in their homes, living in pain, battling with fatigue, anxiety and stress with very little (if no) support. These people also might be further debilitated by elective surgeries for hip/knee replacements being cancelled or by physiotherapy/other treatment clinics being cancelled.
The Wellbeing Revolution Website would offer free online courses and link to The Wellbeing Revolution YouTube Channel, giving regular vlog interviews with people living with long term conditions/professionals involved who can share information about their lives, help to build an online community and share information about living well in these very unusual times.
For longer, more in depth courses, I would offer a very low, special Covid-19 monthly subscription service that would also enable access to a isolation-focused Life Coaching programme.
Over time the website would become the main platform for The Wellbeing Revolution, giving the opportunity for course participants to become part of a wider peer network - a community of wellbeing revolutionaries who no longer accept the inaccessibility of wellbeing programmes for them, but are inspired and empowered by being understood, empathised with and completely catered for.
Due to the long term plan for building up the website, that can be added to and developed after the Covid-19 pandemic, to be able to achieve all of the above. I've been advised by Business Gateway that it's unsuitable for me to use a template or use a template service provider, considering the functionality I will need over time.
I am kindly asking for funding to help me to build and manage the website. I have researched all avenues and have 3 quotes from preferred web designers. Each quote comes in around the £5,000 mark, for the standard of website I require for the content, functionality and management that I will need over time. Business Gateway have been very helpful in helping me to identify my requirements and how I can build and add to the site over the next few years, to engage with even more people.
As a working class girl from a former Coalfield community, this is a lot of money. The website was always going to be THE main investment for The Wellbeing Revolution. The plan was of course to fund this myself in the future. I am asking for £2,000 towards the website so that I can start to develop the first few simple platforms, to offer courses and information to people as soon as possible.
I would be so grateful for your help. I know money is tight for most of us. Anything you could spare would be so appreciated.
Stay Home. Stay Safe.