Sunday, 12 October 2014

CLASP: Walk Out of Darkness

It is fair to say that yesterday was pretty incredible.

On Friday, it was World Mental Health day. So yesterday, a 10 mile walk was organised around London raising awareness of mental illness and suicide. Of course, I took part..!

Several hundred of us congregated at the Southbank near Waterloo. I knew a few people taking part and met many more along the way. Everyone was there for a special reason - because they may have lost or nearly lost someone to suicide or because of their own personal battle with mental illness.

I did it to raise awareness, help stamp stigma and to meet other like minded people - I think I achieved all my objectives. Norman Lamb MP was meant to be there and he was hugely supportive of the event but sadly he had to be else where.

The morning started with several emotional speeches - highlighting the importance of the event, people sharing their stories....

This was the route, roughly. Starting at O (Oxo Tower). Heading East / Anti Clockwise. Finishing where we started at N / O. It took about 3 hours and 15 minutes (including a brief pitt stop in Battersea Park), which felt like no time at all. 

The route took us past some of London's most iconic landmarks - starting at the OXO tower, going past the London Eye, Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament, Lambeth Palace, MI5, MI6, Battersea Dogs Home, Battersea Power Station, the National Theatre...

The sun mostly shone, which helped a lot...!

Of course, I wore my Miranda T shirt and couldn't understand why everyone I walked passed was smiling at me - It says "I can't keep calm, I'm a Miranda".

This is me with Inesa, who is training to be a mental health nurse. If I had my time again, thats what I would do at university. I am in awe of people like her. 

At the end, we were rewarded with sandwiches and Krispy Kremes! I was allowed to take a box of twelve home... yum!

Kenny Johnston, the founder and CEO of the Charity CLASP, organised the entire event single handedly - and it was only when I spoke to him afterwards that I realised what a HUGE amount of planning and thought had gone into it.. It was a great shame to learn that other, larger UK mental health charities would not support the event because there was no money in it for them.

The walk will hopefully become an annual event - and perhaps other people will take the initiative and organise walks of their own around the UK. It was the kind of thing we've been saying needs to happen. Except - next time, I hope even more will come along. 

24 hours after the event, I am now sitting in Gails on Portobello Road.. feeling slightly stiff but so happy that it was so much fun and such a success. I'm already looking forward to the next one..hope you'll come with me!

I'm now off to see Matilda the Musical, which is the perfect way to end such a fun weekend.

Finally - as it was World Mental Health Day on Friday, please take a moment to watch the TED talk at the top of my blog...

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