The Importance of Charity

Tomorrow, 12th December, is the Winter Wellness event at Psycle. It’s an event which I have personally organised and is being held in aid of the Single Homeless Project (SHP) charity. So today I thought I would share with you exactly why I chose this charity and what I hope to achieve with the money raised.

Since my background is in Neuroscience, and having spent the last year of my studies working with children at Great Ormond Street Hospital, I have always had the desire to do anything I can to help those less fortunate than myself. Since 2011 I have planned annual large scale parties to raise money for charities supporting children with brain injury and other illnesses. I organised these events whilst completing my academic courses at university, which was a little challenging to say the least! The amount of time and careful planning that goes into organizing events for 200-300 people is enormous, and it was incredibly difficult to balance this with my studies. However, there was never a point where I wished I could have opted out of doing these parties. The hard work I put into these events really paid off and each year I raised approximately £8,000 for the chosen charities. Counting the money from ticket sales and raffles after each event and knowing that each pound raised would contribute to helping the lives of those in need, resulted in a feeling that cannot be beaten.

This year has been a little different for me… well drastically different! It’s my first year out of studying for 5 years and I’m no longer working in the field of Neuroscience. Instead, I have been labeled the “Crumble Queen” and have submerged myself into the world of healthy eating and wellness. Having started Livia’s Crumble only 5 months ago, there has not yet been one day of rest. Weekends don’t seem to exist when you own your own business, which resulted in the lack of planning one of my annual charity parties. I was not willing to let this slide though. Yes, running my business is taking up every second of every day, but I will always make time to raise money for people who really need it.

So, back in early November I decided I would do something to support a charity, even if it was something on a much smaller scale. My sister, who was very supportive of this plan, suggested that since I have moved from Neuroscience to food, that perhaps the charity of choice this year should reflect this. Her and I then decided to support a homeless shelter charity, where money for food is often scarce. After visiting numerous shelters, I decided to support Dennis Handfield House (DHH) in Kings Cross- supported by SHP. I chose this shelter after spending an afternoon there with the team manager, Clare, and a resident of theirs. The conditions of some of the rooms in the shelter and the shockingly low budget they have for food, really opened my eyes to the struggles experienced. It was here I realised how much they could benefit from the help and support I was offering to them.

DHH currently have no official budget for food. The managers try their best to keep the residents fed, but with an average of £20 spent per week on food for 39 residents, it is not surprising that so many are left severely hungry and are found on the streets of Kings Cross having collapsed due to hunger. DHH have tried to be creative with putting on breakfast/ supper clubs, but due to the lack of money, these clubs only allow for half the amount of residents to be fed.

After speaking to a resident there at length about his experiences in the shelter, I knew that I wanted to do everything I could to raise money for DHH and make food much less of a worry for the residents. One of the residents said something to me that afternoon that resonated hugely. He said “You are one of the first people I have ever seen who has come in and looked around a shelter in aim to support people like me. Homeless shelters are not the ‘fashionable’ charity to support”. Team manager, Clare, supported everything he said, filling me in with some of the details of the resident’s backgrounds – facts which were bitter to hear and utterly shocking. These residents had experienced some life events that no one should ever have to experience and I strongly believe that the stigma associated with homelessness is unjust.

Having decided to support DHH, I brainstormed on how best to go about this. I knew that organizing an event before Christmas to ensure the charity had funds before Christmas Day was going to be very challenging and that I’d need help. So, I turned to some of the most influential and supportive people in the health world to see if they wanted to get involved. With Deliciously Ella, Madeliene Shaw, Imbibery London, Punch Foods and 26 Grains all agreeing to be involved and being their naturally enthusiastic and helpful selves, I became to be very excited about what we could do to raise money for SHP. We decided on a ‘WINTER WELLNESS DAY’, which would consist of a work out, meditation, amazing food and Q&A session. Psycle London was my first choice when choosing a destination to hold the event. Since opening in Spring of this year, Psycle has been my absolute favourite place to work out. They have the most amazing space in the West-end and the most invigorating spin classes. The trainers at Psycle have been so hugely supportive of Livia’s Crumble and this led me to ask Rhian Stephenson, renowned nutritionist and trainer at Psycle, to see if we could hold the event there. Not only did she agree, but she has been an integral part in the organization of the event and she will be leading the spin class on the day.

So… tomorrow it all happens! 40 tickets at £75 each were available and sold out in less than 3 days. All proceeds will go to DHH. The day will consist of a spin class, mediation session, deliciously nutritious lunch cooked by myself and all the other amazing ladies involved in the event and then a Q & A session. Goodie bags have been made up for all guests consisting of a voucher from Psycle, Imbibery, Lifebox, Hotpod Yoga and lots more!!!

When I know exactly how much money has been raised, I will assign the money to certain food projects I want to introduce into the shelter. For example, I am introducing the Porridge Project whereby a large proportion of the money raised from this event will go towards buying porridge oats. Since I have access to food wholesalers, I can get bulk orders and I hope that we will be able to then provide porridge to every resident each morning for quite a while. Porridge is the most wonderfully hearty breakfast, especially in winter months when it is so bitterly cold outside. I hope that the provision of porridge will prevent the severe hunger experienced at DHH and will aid in keeping the residents well nourished.

I am so so excited to be part of such an amazing project and I know that the event tomorrow is going to be so much fun and inspirational! I hope and plan to continue to support a number of different charities throughout my career. I already have lots of ideas and I hope that all of you can get involved in one way or another.