On Monday, I was handed a pack of tea-bags which the charity the Samaritans were giving out to all rail commuters as part of their Brew Monday campaign – a direct response to Blue Monday. Blue Monday, a day dreamed up by a travel company, normally falls on the third Monday of January, and has been labelled ‘depressing’. This is due to the fact that people have overspent at Christmas, the weather is bad and New Year’s Resolutions have been broken. Booking a holiday, ideally overseas, would for many seem a very attractive plan.
Blue Monday isn’t an official Awareness Day, and mental health charities such as the Samaritans are keen to promote the message that we need to be compassionate to each other year round. This can be as simple as sitting down and having a cup of tea with someone who needs to talk. They point out also that complex mental health issues such as depression can strike at any time. The right support for those individuals can be life changing.
Many people do still equate winning a sum of money as the main way to change their life. The National Lottery’s website states that every lottery winner has a ‘life changing plan’ for their win. Of course the lottery can make it easier to fulfil long held ambitions, mainly for the handful that ‘win big’. When interviewed though, many winner’s plans include going on holiday and home improvements, which may not be that life changing in the end. What may have a longer impact, and change more lives, is the money that is provided for the good causes through the National Lottery. A lot of this funding goes to smaller, grass roots charities that would otherwise not be able to carry out their work.
The fact is that extreme financial hardship, as opposed to a temporary overspend, means that not having enough to live on is dispiriting, stressful and can have a significant impact on wellbeing. Having to make daily choices about what you are able to afford from a very limited budget is actually hard work. It is also a truism that poverty can be expensive; if you cannot take advantage of bulk buys in the supermarket for instance, you will end up paying more for your food. And of course, there is the expense of repaying debt.
Today, the Association of Charitable Organisations launches its One Day Changes Lives campaign, a day to promote the work that benevolent funds do for those in the greatest need. Benevolent funds provide grants that may not be lottery sized but can have a life changing impact for the individuals who receive them. It could make the difference between being able to make meals on your own cooker, or not having to choose when you put the heating on in your home. Many also provide advice and signpost other support and services.
Benevolent funds cover between them many different occupations, from gardeners to civil servants and of course those working in theatre. This ACO campaign provides a window into the world of how diverse that support is. To find out more about the campaign, visit #onedaychangeslives