Six months yesterday I turn 30 and I’m not really one for parties. I usually have to be dragooned into doing something, conforming to social norms, that sort of thing. Maybe it’s because I don’t like drawing attention to myself. Maybe I feel self conscious, socially anxious, maybe I am just stubborn.
A few weeks ago I decided I should find some way to mark my birthday next March.
I’d been reading Miss 29’s blog as she sought 30 blind dates before she turned 30. And I remembered Ally Vesterfelt’s Love Runs challenge to raise $30 000 to build a classroom in Uganda for the same landmark. I was keen to step out of my comfort zone, but I knew which one of the two I’d rather do. So a crazy, ridiculous, insane fundraising drive it is. And with a currency exchange that makes it even harder.
And at about the same time a wave of issues relating to women, gender, and abuse hit the airwaves. Taking Elizabeth Fry off the £5 note raised the question of whether enough was being done to recognise the achievements of women, a petition started, protests launched, and the bank agreed to put Jane Austen on the £10 note when that’s next changed. Alongside this narrative of protest and achievement was a shadow story of insult, objectification and abuse that swept like a tsunami towards those leading the campaign. Most notably on twitter, the abuse levelled was horrific and questions were raised as to whether enough was done to respond to the vile and criminal threats made against many women.
But alongside the outrage that, rightly, greeted this episode was another story that didn’t get the coverage.
While money was raised to support a legal challenge against the Bank of England’s banknote decision (which was not needed so subsequently donated to rape crisis centres), funding was being cut from centres that support women who have experienced domestic violence.
A campaign to support funding for centres that for quite obvious reasons eschew publicity lingered in the backwaters of the internet. While Newsnight covered the banknote campaign doors were closed for the final time to women in desperate need of care and support.
It was a couple of weeks later that I had my birthday fundraising idea, and there was only one destination in mind for the money.
Before I turn 30 I want to raise £30 000 to support projects tackling violence against women.
I’ve got a couple of ideas of exactly what I’d like to support but I’ve not made a final decision, may be you could help? I’m looking for a grass roots project to support. I’m aware of the fantastic work done by national and international charities, whom are no less deserving of support. But I think because it is local centres having to close their doors I am looking for a specific project to back. And my current plan is to split it two ways, one based in the UK and one overseas, but again, all that’s to be decided.
I would love you to take part in this. I cannot do this on my own. There is absolutely no way I can raise this sort of money alone.
I need fundraising ideas, I’m thinking of stealing another aspect of Ally Vesterfelt’s project, doing a remote sponsored activity. So I’ll want you to take part in that. I’ll need some advice on how to handle the money side of it, the project needs a name, a brand, a logo, a website. Okay, it probably doesn’t need all that, but if anyone wanted to offer I’d not say no!
If you want to find out more, if you want to stay in touch, if you want to help me fundraise, if you’re feeling creative, head over to the 30 good turns blog I’ve just created and sign up for updates. It’s very basic at the moment and I’m not sure I’ll stick with that title – I’m not sure I’m going to do 30 good turns!
Finally, this all might not happen. It would be easy to pretend I’m going to achieve this. Even with your help we might not. I may be too busy, I may lose enthusiasm. That sounds rubbish doesn’t it? It does I know, but it is also the truth. And I’m not going to beat my self up about that because this is not a Danny vanity project. If it was I should quit now.