From the 23rd of March we began putting out a five part series of mental health features from our members titled 'What's Rowing on in Your Head?' The purpose of which was to raise awareness of mental health issues and how they may affect you and to promote the merits of talking about any problems you may be having. This initiative was very well recieved and we have felt an outpouring of love in response. At the time of conception of this series we had no idea how successful it would become, being read internationally in countries reaching as far as the US, Australia and Japan and being shared by olympic legends such as James Foad (2012 bronze medalist) and Sir Steve Redgrave (Five time gold medalist).
This project was first thought of by Thomas Nelson our welfare officer who has been working on various projects to help club members improve and be aware of their mental health throughout this year.
It was determined that we didn't just want to put out articles to spread awareness but thought it pertinent that we build on this by fundraising to increase awareness even further and have direct impact on a mental health charity. For this purpose we chose to fundraise for Feeling Strong, a Dundee based mental health charity that we have been involved with in past years also. Feeling Strong delivers projects, services and campaigns to the local community to work with young people to tackle stigma, develop resources and create networks to provide support to enable young people to have a more positive mental health journey. As we have worked with Feeling Strong for three years now they have provided us with a message of thanks for our efforts:
"We'd like to sincerely thank the Boat Club for all of their hard work in fundraising for us over the last few years, and buying into our vision whilst we were still a new, developing charity. Importantly, however, this fundraising activity has also raised awareness which is absolutely crucial in changing hearts and minds about the realities of mental health. On the back of this we'd like to encourage students at Dundee University to reach out if they need support, whether that's to university services, a charity like us, or their friends in their class, societies or sports clubs. For many people who are struggling, friends are their first port of call in getting things off their chest or finding the right help to support their recovery. Knowing and understanding what's on offer in your community is one of the best ways to support those who might confide in you." "Feeling Strong has been working hard to ensure that what's on offer in our communities, beyond the projects and services we deliver, reflects the need and experiences of young people in Dundee. An important part of that has been feeding in, and offering constructive challenge, to the work being done by the statutory health services in the city. A part of this has been playing an active role in the development of the new Tayside-wide strategy Living Life Well. Alongside contributing to the look, tone and content of the document and associated workplan, we also hosted the launch event for the new strategy to demonstrate the importance of partnership working and what charities can bring to the table in transforming health outcomes for patients and service users alike. We plan to continue this work, being involved at the top level, to continue to develop and grow this work for the benefit of not just young people in Dundee, but across the region." - Brooke Marshall, CEO Feeling Strong
Our club normally puts on an annual 'Ergathon' fundraiser. Because of COVID-19 we have been unable to do so since 2019 and this year due to restrictions, we decided it would be difficult to do this fundraiser in our usual format. Instead we decided to complete a week long fundraiser titled 'The (almost...) Ergathon' where club members could run, row or cycle their distances over the duration of a week. The fundraiser kicked off on the 12th of April and over the course of the week our club members racked up a massive total of 2106.19 kilometers!
The distances members pledged throughout the week had significant meaning behind them as they were pledged as multiples of 18km. This figure was chosen as according to the 2019 UK statistics, 18 suicides that occured daily. This was meaningful to us as our focus for the month has been mental health, which is often the main motivator behind suicides and it is the leading cause of death in females aged 10-34 and males aged 10-49. We believe that everyone deserves the help they need and that no one should feel that death is the only option, hence the choice of statistic for the fundraiser.
The fundraiser itself has been largely successful with a total (so far!) of over £1000, which will be split evenly between the club and Feeling Strong. Our efforts have also been noticed by Scottish Rowing who have developed an article about our mental health series and the fundraiser. We are grateful for all the support we've recieved from friends, family, alumni and more, and we hope you have enjoyed and potentially gained from watching our journey.