Here’s the speech I shared at the CommuniTea event that the BBC filmed.
The One Show got in touch with us at the beginning of our journey and we agreed to make a film with them to share our story and message of the necessity of community and sharing our lives, but when we were arranging it and started telling them about the severity of all the problems we’ve seen and how everyone can and must be part of making a difference, they appeared to lose interest – telling us they had covered something similar before and would not be making a video. We asked them for their reasons so that we could write an explanation for social media as to why they’d changed their minds and quickly after that they decided that they would make a film after all.
We were incredibly excited for the opportunity to share what we believe is a powerful message. We’ve seen and been shocked by the extent of the mental health crisis our country is facing, the amount of people struggling with little hope for the future, the shocking rates of people – especially young people – who are taking their own lives because of the pain and hopelessness our society breeds and the chronic loneliness and isolation we suffer with. However, we’ve found simple but effective solutions in ordinary, everyday people transforming their communities, creating a support network and giving people pride and belonging, but somehow the media don’t seem interested. This is what our journey has evolved into and it’s so so important to us and we believe it’s important to everyone because if we all play a part in it, we will transform our society for the better.
The One Show sent a team of four down to film for two whole days. We put on a CommuniTea event which took up a whole day of filming, they interviewed people who were there, people who had struggled in life, people who desperately wanted to make a difference, people who were taking active steps to make their community a better place. Even in that group of thirty people – we were aware of five separate tragedies where people had lost a loved one to suicide. Then they spent another whole day interviewing us, but instead focused on things like ‘what we’d do if we wanted one of our friends to have a sleepover in Mo’, ‘where we go to the toilet’ and Mum and Dad’s personal life. We were confused, we are bringing a powerfully effective but simple tool for change to the table to share with the British public and they wanted to talk about toilets and sleepovers?
We told them once again how important it was that the community element came across and the team informed us they would include parts of that, but that their audience (on average, five million British people each night) are mainly interested in vegging out and binge watching box sets. Is this the new box they’re putting us in? They also asked me what I’d say to the majority of teenagers who just care about clothes and their iPhones and I thought – that can’t be all our generation is defined by?
After appearing on The One Show, we came home for a few days to work out the next step and have had conversations with a few of our friends who have also expressed their doubts about our credibility and how relevant our message is to everyday people which we understood, but found incredibly frustrating as encouraging everyday people to get involved in their communities is our whole message.
As a family, we made a conscious decision at the beginning of this challenge to try and keep our message positive, but as we now make plans for the direction of the next step of our journey, we feel that this is something we need to speak up about.
The One Show isn’t the only media attention we’ve received. As we’ve travelled the UK on our challenge, we’ve also had interest from many global mainstream press agencies looking to sell our story (where we would receive 50% of all revenue), but we’ve always held out because although we’ve had long conversations over the phone with them about the purpose behind our journey and all the incredible solutions we’ve discovered along the way to problems that affect us all, they always tell us that they’ll touch on that, but what their audience – the British public – is interested in are things like ‘where we all sleep’, ‘how we afford to live on a tenner a day’ or ‘what our advice would be to parents and grandparents who want to take the kids on a free or cheap day out on the weekends’. In fact, a journalist from a press agency got in touch with us about a paid offer just earlier today and when I thought I’d check out some of their latest stories they were about an overweight dog and a woman who ‘hasn’t drunk water in a year’.
Do the corporations that control everything we watch and read think all we’re interested in is sensationalist stories? Even after we’ve explained that we want to share the the secret to solutions to problems that will affect us all and tools that will help us shape the world we want to live in? Do they think all we’re interested in is entertainment and that our message is irrelevant? We all love being entertained and just being able to switch off, but we also deserve to hear about the things that create positive change and bring us together. Tell us, is what they say true? Isn’t it about time that the media represent what really matters to all of us?