Ultra Marathon 25km Swimming Challenge starting...

From Marathon Swims:

The PM's announcement on 31 October has meant that pools have been ordered to close for 4 weeks from Thursday 5 November. This was unfortunate, as our challenge was due to be throughout November and the majority of participants would have taken part in UK pools.

Therefore, due to the pools' closure, we have extended the timeframe for the challenge. The challenge remains the same - swim a Marathon 10k or Ultra Marathon 25k over a maximum of 30 consecutive days. But the timeframe for completion is now 31 December 2020.

My local pool is offering 45 minute swimming sessions.  Here is a record of my swimming log, which for each session broke down into breaststroke, backstroke and freestyle mix of strokes:

Date       Lengths  Time  Distance  Cumulative  Remainder

(25m) (Mins) (m) (m) (m)

Sun 1 Nov 20 90 40 2250 2250 22750
Mon 2 Nov 20 84 37 2100 4350 20650
Tue 3 Nov 20 96 45 2400 6750 18250
Totals 270 122 6750

Wed 4 Nov 20   Rest day
Thurs 5 Nov 20 Pools closed until 2 December 2020

Why am I swimming such a long way? I count myself fortunate to have met others with the time and patience to teach me to float and put one arm in front of the other; have access to public baths; a camaraderie and resolve to be rewarded for something I love doing, and to find a meditative, primordial peace simply by slipping through H20. In short, I will be transferring my energy to move, and with your contributions, aid us to tilt others caught in eddies, towards softer cascades; becoming unstuck in their minds.

A comment I hear often is "You're the first person I have spoken to about this in my life". Which is helpful because I usually include something of the following in my response when asked, "So, what do you do?"

There are many moments when I witness someone having money for the first time in 20 years, never knowing they could get help; or gaining joy from spending time with their only child after overcoming a contentious and prolonged court hearing to gain equitable access; or begin walking again - realising talking had awakened their mobility; or obtaining central heating for the first time in five years.

These represent a mere handful of precious, yet profound changes that express my and colleagues' daily work. The results, in some ways, require a very simple, yet affirmative approach, devoid of lazy platitudes. Feeling understood, listened to, validated even, reveals hope and a sense of possibility where there had previously been loneliness, separation and despair. Beyond our eyes, ears and big hearts, we have time for people to explore, share, participate, take a few risks and realise that they aren't alone any more; there is a gentle buoyancy.

You wouldn’t be alone in thinking that there has been a negative impact of lockdowns, restrictions, tiers and the Coronavirus (Covid-19, SARS-CoV-2 and Corvid - a.k.a. the crow family) has affected people with mental health problems. However, it is worth saying that from the standpoint of those we work alongside, you will hear more diverse voices.

For instance, I have heard, “Welcome to my world. This is how I have been living the last 30 years.” or “I hope this lockdown continues. I feel I can go out to get food now without bumping into lots of people.” and in the early Spring days especially I was often asked “How are you?” Which says as much about a shift in focus as understanding that many people have difficulties, and also have the capacity for kindness and feelings for the wellbeing of others; not being defined by pre-occupying thoughts, feelings or diagnosis.

With uncertainty, we also see new boundaries, but that can bring focus and resilience. From altering a narrow corridor of reliance on individual support, attending a service, course or group now supplanted with openness, freshness and responsiveness; elasticity is unveiled. For example, some who used to play pool and meet up with friends, now look elsewhere. Exploring and discovering a range of venues and the chance to meet new players. Extended and repeated lockdowns has provided more time to tidy up a flat and even decorate. For others, the hindrances have intensified feeling isolated. The plain terms of engagement for the mundane such as shopping, care and leisure has given a sense of walls closing in, exacerbating perceived threats.

Our role within Recovery Works (my contract) first and foremost is about dispensing with pre-conceptualisations about labels, finding out detail of circumstances and responding to what is most important, and that can take time.

Referrals are surging in recent months across many services and the underlying patterns of need are similar: structural causes such as insufficient or inappropriate housing; indebtedness; unnecessary and unfair assessments when claiming or reviewing benefits; a topsy-turvy process to get help: presenting your case, rejection, Mandatory Reconsideration, rejection, going to an appeal process in the judicial system and finally, generally getting an outcome in favour of the claimant. On average, with people I help this has been taking up to a year. Why not just get it right first time?

In the meantime, we need, Bromley, Lewisham & Greenwich Mind need, to continue responding to those not waving...

Pause and take look at our website www.blgmind.org.uk for yourself. We have a new website launching, so also look out for our Twitter and Facebook pages.

Please feel free to read, share, contribute or pass by, there is no pressure to part with a donation for a cause in a sea of charities and worthwhile campaigns. However, if you do choose generosity then your kind intention and action will help me and colleagues to alleviate temporary or long-standing distress and isolation; comfort those needing to pause from increasingly complex lives and create some joy and connection.

The official bit...


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