A novel initiative to raise awareness of mental health and prevent teen suicide across Yorkshire has struck a chord with a chart-topping band.
Supporters of the newly-launched I Choose Life (ICL) Foundation, based in Harrogate, are joining in a 500-mile walk around the county as part of its inaugural fund-raiser.
And as they as prepare to put their best foot forward, they got the most appropriate backing from The Proclaimers – the Scottish brothers Craig and Charlie Reid who achieved worldwide fame with their number one hit “I’ Gonna Be (500 Miles)”.
ICL founder Sarah Shearman, who lives at Sicklinghall, near Wetherby, was invited to meet the double-act as they stopped off in North Yorkshire as part of a year-long world tour so they could hear more about the challenge – and found they were totally in tune with its aims.
She said: “We set up ICL to support anyone who feels the persistent strains of their life are taking them down.
“Craig and Charlie have a keen interest in mental health and it was great to give them a first-hand insight into our work, and our aims for making a difference to people’s lives.
“They have also thrown their weight behind our walk by enabling us to use their famous ‘500 mile’ song to promote it, for which we are truly grateful.”
The walk will see 46-year-old Sarah and her dog Yume will leave Harrogate on Boxing Day to set off on a month-long, 500-mile walk around Yorkshire, finishing back in the town somewhat footsore on Saturday January 26.
Individuals and businesses with an interest in promoting good mental health are encouraged to join her on any day for as much or as little of her walk as possible – and help her hit her £10,000 fund-raising target.
Her trek also takes in Monday January 21, dubbed “Blue Monday” for being officially classed the most depressing day of the whole year – but also a date to inspire people to take action, and make bold and positive life decisions.
Based in Harrogate, ICL was launched to provide support for anyone who is struggling with the constant challenges life can bring us at all stages and ages of life.
These include daily stresses of just getting to work or the kids to school on time. Bullying, divorce and isolation to loss and grief; trauma to overwhelming feelings of anxiety, loneliness and guilt.
Sarah added: “We know these and many more experiences can take their toll on all of us and often lead to our mental health crashing, even though to the outside world we look like we are coping.
“We also know that if people come to us early, especially youngsters, we can support them to make life-changing decisions. That, with a bit of effort, can alter their destination forever.
“The ICL team offers one-to-one sessions, group work, and events to help build up momentum and offer people the chance to get back to enjoying life with a load of awesome people who are on a similar journey and just get it.”
People can walk for themselves or on behalf of a loved one. Some 50 per cent of the funds they raise can be ring-fenced for use for themselves or the loved one(s), community, school or workplace to access the Foundation’s services.