This has been re-written over and over and I’m still not sure the words I’ve used are the right words.
You know when you’re in those bottomless pits and you feel as though asking for help is futile because you’re not sure you’re worthy of it, you don’t want to be a burden and you’re not sure if anyone cares?
That’s kinda where Blurt is at right now.
We’ve dillied and dallied over whether to ask for help. Decided yes, then decided no, then decided yes, and continued that painful dance over and over. We’re not great at asking for help (we know, we know – practice what you preach, Blurt!), we’re always ultra-aware that there are a gazillion causes fighting for your attention and we didn’t want to be one of them – we wanted to help, help, help and help some more and leave you feeling better than you’d found us. Which doesn’t take into consideration that helping others can feel quite good, right?!
When we launched BuddyBox, we (somewhat naively) thought we’d found our magic-wondrous-yay-way to be sustainable. The key to being enterprising and to fund the work we do and the work we had planned. As it turns out, it’s been much harder than it looks and putting all of our eggs in one basket doesn’t protect us from risks such as another much-larger charity creating a subscription box or from what happens if sales really decrease – which is exactly what’s happened to us these past few spring/summer months; we’ve experienced back-to-back months of dropping BuddyBox sales (we do have plans to address this in place).
In *not* asking for help, we’re cutting off our noses to spite our faces and we’re not entirely living in alignment with our messaging when we urge you to reach out for help when you’re in a struggle. In suffering in silence, we’re existing in a space that’s all too painful, isolating and frightening. And, with our back against the wall, we’re at the stage where we’re looking at there no longer being a Blurt.
Calling in the cavalry – that’s you <3
Our last shot at survival really, is this crowdfunding campaign we’ve set-up. With the funds raised, it’ll help us to mop up the damage caused by our dismal spring/summer sales and it’ll give us space to regroup and make decisions about funding, whether we should change to charity status, how we spring/summer-proof ourselves in 2020, to implement changes including the ones you lovely lot submitted in The Big BuddyBox Quiz (thank you), to continue being able to work with schools, GPs, community groups and inpatient services, and to explore other ways of fundraising.
We’ve prepared this tweet – which means you can help with just two clicks:
Do we make a difference?
Heck yes we do! In trying to find the right words to sum up the difference we make, we thought we’d leave that to you! And so, we collated all of the ‘nice stuff’ we’ve captured over the last two years into a 98-page-pdf for you to read through (tissues needed).
In addition to that, Google Analytics tells us that in 2018 1,130,483 people visited our website (unique visitors) with 3,481,367 pages visited between them. That’s a staggering amount of people who are seeking information to help them understand and manage depression. Our self-care starter kit has been downloaded over 15,000 times. We send out our ‘Nuggets o’ Kindness’ Saturday email to over 18,000 of you. We know that mental health teams, counsellors and therapists use the resources we create and work through them with their patients which is why we popped them all together on one page – they’ve been downloaded 1,781 times in the past month alone.
We’re working with schools who have no funds available due to funding cuts, inpatient services who have very limited funds due to funding cuts, it’s a really tricky landscape with a system that’s broken and we just so want to help in any way we can. The trouble being, we’ve been pouring from an almost-empty cup and we need to batten down the hatches, regroup and top ourselves back up. We’re really down, but we’re not quite out, not yet.
To continue offering these resources we need your support, and we’d really appreciate any donation you can make. If you aren’t able to make a financial contribution, please consider fundraising for us as part of this campaign, and share this campaign loudly and proudly and explain all of the reasons why it, why we, matter to you.’
You might be thinking – am I the right person for the role of CEO?
I’ve been back and forth and back and forth and back and forth over and over and over with this. Gah, it’s such a difficult question to answer because right now, in the midst of this I feel like such a failure. I feel as though I’ve failed something I’ve given sweat and tears to, I feel as though I’ve failed myself, failed the team, failed people we’ve worked with and failed you.
Blurt started off, in 2011, from my bed-office. I was working at the time, and all my spare time was spent crafting the website, popping things on social media, replying to social media (it’s always been, and continues to be a Blurt-thing that we acknowledge every comment because so many organisations don’t and I hate to think that someone has been brave enough to contribute to the conversation and to go unheard or unseen), replying to emails, delivering social media courses to have funds to pay for the website, insurance, and so on. Blurt started because I wholly felt that more resources were needed from the perspective of someone with lived experience, with the aim of using my hindsight and love for self-helpful resources, as another’s foresight (you can watch this TEDx which might explain it better). At that time, I think I was the right person in the sense that I was willing to volunteer my time, energy, and commitment to do all of this.
I never expected Blurt to grow in the way that it did, not ever.
Fast forward to 2015 when I needed help with it all as I had a baby and we’d just launched BuddyBox and all of the complexities that brought, I decided to give up my day job,and make Blurt my day job and we started building a very teeny but mighty and resourceful team, who are all absolutelyfrikkin’ amazing. They too have lived experiences of mental ill health and seeing how they apply their experiences to help other people will always warm my heart of the most painful of Blurt days and nights.
In being a Social Enterprise, we’ve always had the ‘social’ aspect covered, we’ve got a Trello board rammed to the rafters of projects we’d like to do and community groups we’d like to help and partner with – knowing how and where we can make social change is something we’re totally clued up on. There are things like a podcast we’d love to bring to the table, kindness cafes to help address loneliness and isolation, and oh-so-much more. In many ways, we’re just getting started.
The ‘enterprise’ aspect, that’s the really tough bit for me, for us, because we’ve been here before, in 2017 when we almost went into administration. We learned an awful lot from that, we added a finance person to our team, created processes and systems, and worked our socks off (and then some) to come back from that, which held us in good stead until the dramatic sales decrease of spring/summer this year.
The buck ultimately stops at me so I’m not making excuses when I explain some of the background – I’ve never been a CEO, I didn’t climb a ladder or go to university, I don’t have anyone around me who I can lean on for guidance and advice related to this enterprise stuff. It’s hard, it’s lonely and I’m reading business books as though they’re going out of fashion but it takes time to implement what I’m learning. I also need to get much better at asking for help – if there are any women in CEO roles who wouldn’t mind themselves a mentee, please send them my way.
You’ll have more questions, we will too, please don’t hesitate to ask them and we’ll do a Crowdfunder update to add our replies in one go.
If you made it this far, the sincerest of thank yous! If you can support this crowdfunding campaign in any way, please please please do. Whether that’s financially (only if comfortable for you to do so), by fundraising for it, or to share its socks off.
All the thank yous,
Jayne and all of us at Blurt <3
I’m going to leave you with a quote that one of our team, Naomi, sent me yesterday:
“How to be strong: There are no rules. You are already strong. Even when you are crying. Even when you are at your lowest point. Even when you are falling apart. Your strength is in your survival. Your strength is within you always. And besides, didn’t anyone ever tell you that strength looks so different on us all?”
— Nikita Gill