Zoe's charity sleep-in for SCT
Fundraising for Spitalfields Crypt Trust
Early yesterday evening, I tootled down to the city (of London), to see an art exhibition hosted by the Spitalfields Crypt Trust (a small local charity dedicated to supporting people on their journey from addiction to recovery). It is a fantastic organisation that does huge amounts of work not only to encourage people onto a path of recovery, but to keep them there, through work and opportunity.
Their projects include the Restoration Station (http://www.sct.org.uk/restoration-station) which gives those in recovery an opportunity to learn a trade and focus their energies (in this case, to restore and sell gorgeous vintage furniture at reasonable prices), Paper and Cup (http://www.paperandcup.co.uk/about-us) one of my favourite coffee shops at the end of my road, staffed largely by those in recovery, and myriad classes such as the art class whose work was exhibited last night.
The exhibition, held in the gleaming offices of city law firm Shearman and Sterling was just a 10-minute walk away from my flat, but a world away from the day-to-day realities of my neighbourhood. Since returning here six months ago from the quiet Essex suburbs, I was again reminded of the reality of drug addiction and its impact not only on the person themselves, but on their families and communities. Daily I'm confronted with a mix of emotions - from feeling helpless and impotent (what can I do to help??), to frustration (it's hard being kind to people who are so crushed by their addiction that their behaviour can be very confronting).
It was talking to one of those in recovery yesterday, while I nibbled on delicacies handed out by suited waiters - that allowed me to see some hope. Firstly I noticed his eyes - they were white, bright, smiling. At first I thought his hands were scarred by needle marks and tattoos, but then I saw they were covered in paint stains. "I've wasted 15 years of my life," he said "This is what keeps me going... this is me... and this is what I want to do,". His paintings didn't actually sell yesterday evening. "I don't mind," he said with a gentle smile. "To think that my work, is being exhibited here... I would never have thought that possible... what's important is that my work is here today,".
I left, thinking of his journey. His story. His day-to-day commitment and determination - to keep his addiction at bay. His strength of character to abstain, 100%, from something so alluring, so appealing, so tempting, that is all around him. I have so much respect for him... and others like him. To have the balls to say 'no', on a day to day basis. And to face their reality - without heading to the safe 'haven' of drugs. SCT makes his journey easier - by steering him in the right direction and doing all they can to keep him there. I love this approach.
So ladies and gents... I want to run with that inspiration for a little bit. I want to raise a little money for this charity that is doing so much practical good... with the people that are the hardest in our society to help, and to love. And I'm wondering if any of you can help me run with this little spark for a while?
Today I signed up to sleeping (just for one night) on the floor of a local church, in their crypt. Part of the deal is that I have to encourage/persuade/beg (!) some people (anyone!), to give a few pounds here and there. It is to mark the 50th anniversary of this hugely important, small, local charity. I'd like to raise a little money and awareness - so it can help people, like those I met last night, keep out of addiction. To keep them focused. To keep their eyes bright and alert. To allow them to unlock their talents. And to give them back their self-respect and confidence.
I know there are a LOT of charities out there... and I don't expect many of you to have the time/money/resources to donate. Or even to read this rather long rambling post. And that's fine. Or even to feel as inspired as I am right now - as it's not something that is in your back yard. But if you are able to, even just one of you, then thanks a million! It's a really, really good cause.
And in case any of you think it's easy for me to sleep on a cold church floor.. believe me... I am a fair-weather-Brit! Always have been. I'm ridiculous in cold weather. When I was younger I was convinced that I was born in the wrong body/country. My feet and hands were perennially cold. Sleeping on church floor, in November, is not something that is easy for me to sign up to.... especially as the night I am doing it - I am also giving up the chance to have MY OWN BED ALL TO MYSELF! As my three-year old daughter (who I share my small double bed with in our one-bed flat) isn't there on that evening. I'll be thinking of that spacious bed as I'm shivering on the cold church floor (cue: purse/wallets opening!!).
If you've got this far - thanks so much for reading.
And if anyone fancies joining me... please do sign up. It'll be great!