This photo was taken just as we had got settled down for the night. We were all cozy, it was dry outside and it had been a fun evening. We had a talk by a lady from the charity Inspire which was both humbling and, well, inspiring: hearing about the work they do. We’d had a couple of games, some drinks and snacks and a chat with lots of different people from all around the District.
It’s a good job I didn’t take a photo of us at 3am — when it was 3ºC, when we had got very little sleep and when I was having that whole committee meeting in my head about whether I needed to get up to go for a wee! Was it worth getting up and disentangling myself from all of the layers I was in and getting my boots on? How desperate was I?! Could I last until morning? There wouldn’t have been quite so many smiles on that photo, I can tell you!
The thing that got to me this year, in both good and bad ways, was the camaraderie.
Last year, we had to be on our own in our garden at home. This year, it was lovely getting to finally meet those from around the District that I’d only seen on Zoom. It was a lot of fun meeting the students from the University who had decided to join us (and some who decided to sleep out directly under the stars!) plus some of our ONE X youth group and colleagues from around the Circuit. It was hilarious watching Leslie Newton, the District Chair, attempting to take down his tent the next morning, which was one of those ones you are meant to twist into a perfect circle. Six youth leaders and members of staff and, 15 minutes later, it was finally done!
Amid the laughter was the thought in the back of minds that there were so many young people out there who were going through it on their own. The isolation and loneliness must be utterly devastating. I’ve done a lot of mental health training and research and had many conversations over the last five years. Loneliness has such a deep impact on people’s mental health. Everyone faces really tough times at different points in their lives, but if you feel like you are not going through it on your own, you find that little bit more strength to keep going. What must it be like to have no-one to talk to and to share your worries with?
So I rolled my eyes at myself, got up to go for wee and then came back and tried to find a comfy position (there wasn’t one), taking comfort in the fact that we were giving a few young people a chance to feel a little bit less lonely.
Thank you so much to those who have contributed— the total currently stands at £4,781 which is fantastic!
Lorraine and Charlotte