08/09/15 The tip of a rather lovely iceberg

On the 3rd of September 2015 hundreds of people took to the streets with the single aim to challenge mental health stigma one conversation at a time. 

There was no raging against the machine – just a bunch of folk walking and talking about mental health issues and what that meant from their perspective, in Edinburgh, Inverness, Glasgow, Inverkeithing and Daventry. 
This – we hoped – was going to be a distillation of what was…what is…fabulous about my walk and the people I’ve met so far around the UK.

 A simple message really, that people are interested and interesting, that folk, when put in the same social space, are very quick to rejoice in their similarities and put their perceived differences to one side. 

This isn’t rocket science. 

At the end of the day my face ached because I’d been smiling so much. 

My role for the day had been made so incredibly simple by the wonderful and hard working Eleanor from SeeMe and the rest of their dedicated team. 

My role? It was pretty much to ponce about, chatting, shaking hands and hugging folk. 

It’s a hard job but someone’s gotta…
People I’d never met before came up to me with smiles that suggested we were long lost friends. 

People who could have been any one of these – 
but whose only difference on the day was whether they had a green smiley face on their shirt, or a red one.

We started with a simple question, ‘What brings you here today?’ 
And it all just bowled along from there…

As well as the lovely buzz of the event evolving around me, some of my highlights were seeing the lovely Teen and Stewart who I’d stayed with on the Black Isle (neither black, nor an isle…the mystery continues) 
and Jan and Colin who’d effectively adopted this particular wandering loon  very early on in my ramble. 

All of whom continued to support me in a variety of ways as I trundled around Scotland. 

Yep, still smiling. 

…chatting to the woman who’d seen spending time in prison as a positive experience because that’s where she’d first received her diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder and, as a result, the start of therapy to help manage it. 

She’d brought her social worker along for the ride. The same social worker who spoke to me about her own struggle with depression – much to the surprise of the woman who’d invited her. 

Clearly we have more similarities than differences – you just have to scratch the surface. 

Earlier, I’d walked with Jamie Hepburn, the Scottish Minister for sport, health improvement and mental health. 

It was similar to those ‘what would you do with three wishes?’ kind of scenarios. The one where your third wish is invariably, ‘I’ll have three more wishes, please…’

We sorted that out very early on – Jamie agreed to meet with me at a later date to talk more about all things mental health. 

I liked his trusting disposition – right from the start he agreed for our conversation to be broadcast to the world using the periscope app on my phone. That, for me, was a pretty good place to start. 

I ended the day talking with a woman who wasn’t wearing one of our t-shirts. 

It turns out she’d just popped out to buy some hummus…she saw our merry band wandering down the Royal Mile, liked the cut of our collective jibs, and joined in. 

That’s the walkamile way. 

But this is just the tip of an increasingly growing iceberg. 
An iceberg that includes you lot. We’ve spread the word here on BBC Radio Scotland (about an hour and 35 minutes in)

Here  on Scottish television (about 15 minutes before the end) 
And here in the Edinburgh News
And, if you’ll indulge me further, here’s a beautifully written thing that describes the walkamile gig rather well.

The next event is in Strathclyde Park on the 23rd of September – you can sign up for that here

If that doesn’t suit you, why not run your own? You can download the supporters pack here

This is just the beginning…

Come on in, the water’s lovely

Walk a Mile


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