By Felicity ‘Flick’ Ward, Credit Controller at REaD Group
It seemed like such a good idea at the time – all I have to do is not speak for 6 days… If Julia Roberts can do it in “Eat, Pray, Love” then it should be no problem for me. Many were incredulous that I would be able to stay quiet for so long – “YOU, not speak for 6 days?”, “Flick, you must be joking”, “You’ll NEVER manage that” – I could go on.
Not to be deterred, and encouraged that some of my disbelieving friends and colleagues had pledged sponsorship, I booked the Bali Silent Retreat bang in the middle of Ubud – no getting away then!
As my departure date approached, I started to have serious doubts (and borderline panic) but off I went.
It turned out to be an absolutely amazing experience – bucket list stuff! I loved the tranquillity, the place was stunning and having no contact with the outside world at a time of intense political turmoil was so welcome.
My daily routine consisted of:
5am Ginger Tea
6 – 7am Meditation
7-8.30 am Yoga
9.30 am BREAKFAST
Free to explore, eat lunch etc. until
2pm – 3.30pm Yoga
3.30pm – 4.30pm Meditation
4.30 – 6pm DINNER
Then early to bed.
My daughter had bought me Eat, Pray, Love to read which I started on the morning I arrived and finished an hour before I left – I hadn’t appreciated the inscription until I opened it – “Dear Mummy – one family’s quest for silence”. It was the perfect book to read…
I tried all sorts of things I had never experienced and to be honest, never thought I would – labyrinth walking meditation, crystal meditation, water meditation (freezing!!) and all sorts of yoga positions I never thought were possible!
I had time to really get to know myself, explore my innermost thoughts and heal from the frantic life we all seem to lead and all of the pressures we put upon ourselves – such as the expectation of instant (and constant) communication. No mobile – so no Whats App, no email, no text and NO BREXIT!
I fell in love with Mount Batur which I could see from my terrace and decided to have a go at painting it (no judgement please, I know I’m no Monet!).
I amazed myself at my ability to keep absolute silence – I didn’t even talk to myself (something I swear I do on a regular basis!).
This really was an unforgettable experience and one which was made even more poignant as two days after I left the Retreat I received news of a dear friend of the family, aged 27, who had attempted suicide but had miraculously survived.
Suicide is the biggest killer of men under 45, and the main reason I wanted to undertake this self-imposed silence (besides raising as much as possible for CALM and setting a personal challenge for myself) was because mental health is an issue that people often struggle to talk about and there are so many who suffer in silence.
Thank you so much to everyone who sponsored me and for everyone that understandably doubted my ability to pull this off, I am so delighted I proved them wrong.
It is still not too late to sponsor me so please, please, dig deep for this truly amazing charity: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/REaD-Group2
By Alice Miller, Account Manager at REaD Group
One of the most inspiring things about working for REaD Group is our fundraising activity and commitment to a new charity every year. We select a charity that has been nominated by a member of staff, provide them with pro bono marketing services and spend the year trying to raise as much money as we can!
Last year we raised over £12,000 (including Gift Aid) for MS Society, thanks to a year packed with sponsored waxing, quizzes, bake-offs and other fun events – and especially due to some intrepid employees trekking 10 peaks in 10 hours in the Lake District! The Charity of the Year gives us a chance to come together as a team and raise much needed funds for causes where every little really does make a big difference.
This year, I nominated CALM – the Campaign Against Living Miserably. CALM is a national, male suicide charity. It focuses specifically on men as 76% of all suicides are male, and suicide is the biggest killer of men under 45.
Anyone who knows me will be aware that I’m particularly supportive of mental health campaigns. However, the work that CALM do is especially close to my heart as I’ve lost two male friends to suicide in the last few years. It is difficult and tragic to see anyone battling with mental health issues, but it’s important to remember how far-reaching its impact can be – suicide affects families, friends and communities too.
We were fortunate enough to be visited this week by one of CALM’s fundraising officers, Emily, who came into the office to talk to us about the fantastic work that CALM does:
- Providing frontline services for men, including a free and confidential helpline and webchat
- Promoting cultural and societal change, enabling conversations and encouraging everyone to speak out about their mental health experiences
- Campaigning for better understanding of the causes of suicide and its prevention.
I think we all left the talk feeling incredibly moved – I spotted more than one person who had ‘something in their eye’ – and inspired to get stuck in to some fundraising and smash our target from last year!
To help kick things off this year I’ll be running the Royal Parks Half Marathon in October. If you haven’t met me, I am not a runner (at the start of the year I found it difficult to run for a bus!) But my running bug seems to be infectious, as 22 members of staff have signed up to run the Asics London 10k in July – we’ll keep you updated throughout the year with our progress! Please give generously if you can and help us raise money for this incredible charity!
Any donations are hugely appreciated and regular updates on our fundraising activity can be found on our JustGiving page.
Find out more about the great work that CALM do here!
By Scott Logie, MD, Insight at REaD Group
At the start of 2018, REaD Group chose MS Society to be our charity of the year. This was based on one of our team who made the proposal, and we agreed they were a worthy charity to follow. I don’t think many of us at that point would have realised how engaged we would have been as a business with the charity, how much we would have learned about the disease or what can be done to help people who live with the disease every day.
A lot of that has to go down to MS Society, they have been amazing. We met the Chief Exec who was full of ideas on how we could help them. Additionally, we have had brilliant support from a number of teams across the charity, with special mention to Tom Bolsin, who has kept us up to date on opportunities, given us great ideas on how to raise funds but more importantly shared with us what our funds could do. And that is at the heart of what a good charity partnership should be.
Over the year we have had visits from an MS sufferer who shared what it is like to live with this debilitating illness every day and we have had a presentation from the research team on what is being done to try and stop the spread of MS.
A particular highlight (?) for me was the visit to the Tissue Bank with my colleague Katie. Katie was our star fundraiser when we did our big challenge – more on that later – and as a “reward” got to see how brains and spinal cords are being dissected for sharing around the world for researchers to analyse the differences between those with the disease and those without (more information here). Katie seemed to love this, odd girl, although I had to leave the room to lie on the floor. Those people who do that job deserve a medal.
Probably the most uplifting event of the year was the awards ceremony where individuals with MS, their families, their employers and those who raise funds in their spare time were all recognised. The word “humbling” is over-used, but I left that event feeling pathetic for the little that I do compared to these amazing people and enthused that they do it.
Oh yeah, and we raised funds too. We baked cakes – some tasted nicer than others. We had a pub quiz and watched Tickers beat Snickers. Just about. We had pub games and enjoyed the beer more than the games. And we had a wax off where some of our brave men lost the hair from their arms, legs, back, stomach, chest and…underarms. Well played Arun, Adam, Charlie, Andrew and Joe. It wouldn’t have been me.
And for our big challenge we tackled 10 peaks in 10 hours in the Lake District. It was a very sunny day with a storm threatening the whole way around. I’m delighted to say that all thirty of us made it, and more importantly made it together. The fact that we entered the pub at 9 hours and 58 minutes just as the heavens opened made it all the sweeter I think. What a team effort!
We have raised over £12k before Gift Aid and have enjoyed doing so. Thanks to everyone who has contributed, we really appreciate it.
We’ll be looking to support another charity in 2019 but, to be honest, whoever we support will do well if they are as engaged, supportive and helpful as MS Society have been this year. It’s quite easy for an organisation to raise funds for a charity but this year has been so much more than that. We have learned a great deal about the disease and the causes; we have met sufferers who have inspired and amazed us with their desire to live a normal life; we have learned about the root causes and what needs to happen to stop MS and we have seen how even a disease as hideous as this can be overcome with fortitude and bravery. It’s been fun and enlightening.
‘In a fast-paced world, today’s popular brand could be tomorrow’s trivia question.’ – The words of late PepsiCo Chairman, D. Wayne Colloway, have never been more relevant. For many businesses, the need to stay on the pulse and react to unforeseen or last-minute changes is crucial. Missing a beat can be very costly.
In an ideal world, every campaign would be meticulously planned and crafted, with a contact list that had been equally scrutinised with a fine-tooth comb. Sadly, very few are afforded such luxuries!
Undoubtedly, the level of reactivity required can alter drastically depending on the nature of a business. In some instances, we may be talking about a number of weeks, but sometimes it may be a matter of days, or even hours!
If we take, for example, the charity sector, and more specifically Disaster Relief Charities, it is imperative that the turnaround on campaigns is as fast as can be achieved. When funds are desperately needed, and lives are at stake, speed is everything.
The recent earthquake and tsunami that hit Indonesia left hundreds of thousands of survivors in urgent need of food, water and shelter. As soon as the news broke, many Disaster Relief Charities would have immediately begun putting together lists of supporters to appeal to for donations.
However, with the major overhaul in data protection law in May of this year (GDPR) there are considerations that must be taken in relation to the data being used for these campaigns. In accordance with article 5(1)d of the GDPR:
‘every reasonable step must be taken to ensure that personal data that are inaccurate, having regard to the purposes for which they are processed, are erased or rectified without delay.’
This potentially makes things difficult when putting campaign lists together when time is of the essence. If you need to send out a campaign urgently, you can’t afford to waste time waiting for an ad hoc data clean to be completed. This can often take up to 2-3 working days at which point the initiative has been lost and response rates can be lower.
Putting aside the risk of fines that might be incurred from contacting goneaway or deceased contacts under GDPR, a far more serious and harmful prospect is that of costly reputation and brand damage.
In response to these challenges, REaD Group have developed Data as a Service (DaaS) – a new real-time delivery model that provides access to REaD Group’s market leading data cleaning solutions, on demand. As data is cleaned in real-time, you can rest assured that data is accurate, up-to-date and campaign-ready at a moment’s notice.
Ensuring that campaign data is accurate and up-to-date is now required by law, but this doesn’t have to restrict reactivity when time is short. Whether you’re a disaster relief Charity responding to a recent event or disaster, a travel company capitalising on current weather conditions or a retailer making the most of current affairs – there is a need. A need for speed.
Contact us today if you’d like to know more about DaaS!
There was laughter, there were tears, some unexpected scrambling, a few blisters, a bit of chafing, sun burn and A LOT of sweat – but we all did it!
The sun was just rising over the picturesque Lake District hills when 29 intrepid REaD Group staff (and one trusty canine companion in Bella the dog!) set off on our 10 Peaks Challenge to raise much needed funds for MS Society.
The Challenge: Conquer 10 peaks in less than 10 hours
The Route: a 15ish (our various distance measuring devices couldn’t quite agree) mile route taking in some of the highest peaks and most spectacular views in the Lake District, including the mighty Scafell Pike
The Team: 29 REaD Group staff (30 if you count Bella the dog!)
There were highs….
Reaching the top of peak 10 in 6 hours – we totally rock!
The views – simply breath-taking!
The joy of cooling our burning feet (and in some cases whole bodies!) in The Stickle Tarn
Almost losing Adam T in a steaming bog (the muddy kind) – or should that be a low!?!
The bliss of the first sip of a cold pint/cup of tea at the official finish – the very welcome sight that is Wainrights’ Inn
Tucking into Chicken/Veg Tikka Masala and Lemon Meringue Pie (or 3 if you’re Tickers…) at the youth hostel
The sense of camaraderie and achievement – there’s really nothing like it!
And the lows?
Well none really – apart from THE SWEAT! With sunshine AND humidity, we were sweaty in places we didn’t know we had – ‘nough said! And being chased by an enormous thunder storm (which a least had the decency to wait till we had got to the pub).
Huge thanks must to our fantastic guides Matt, James, James and (yes) James from Lakeland Mountain Guides [https://www.lakelandmountainguides.co.uk] who made us laugh and kept us safe and also the lovely staff at YHA Langdale [https://www.yha.org.uk/hostel/yha-langdale]
A massive effort and achievement from everyone, and we are a few whiskers away from reaching our £10k fundraising target so any donations would be so much appreciated. Come on people!
Our JustGiving page will be live until 30th June: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/readgroup10in10
By Scott Logie, MD, Insight at REaD Group
I played football on Thursday afternoon for the first time in around a year. We played 3 games…and lost them all. In addition, I stubbed my toe which was massive and bruised when I woke up. I also seem to have tweaked some muscles in my groin. All of which meant that I was feeling pretty sorry for myself when I hobbled through the rain to attend the MS Society Awards lunch on Friday. By the time I left a little over 4 hours later not only had I realised the need to stop being quite so self-centred but I had learned a huge amount about people’s ability to be positive, see past adversity and support others.
Every year at REaD Group we choose a charity to support. This year we are helping out and raising funds for MS Society after it was nominated by one of our staff who has a friend who suffers from Multiple Sclerosis. We have done some fundraising events already including a waxing evening (for some of our hairier gents) and are walking 10 peaks in the Lake District in 10 hours on the 1st of June. I was also invited to judge the employer of the year award which was one of 15 given out at the awards.
Even before the awards, at the drinks beforehand and over lunch, the stories of how people live with MS and the support of those who help them out day to day was incredible. As part of the judging we had already read a lot about the things that people in companies do to help their colleagues who have to live each day with MS, but to meet these people in the flesh and see the bond between them was amazing. It was clear that for all of them, this wasn’t about helping staff but about a lasting friendship.
This might sound odd but one of the things I noticed, from my point of view as an outsider, was how often it was hard to distinguish who had MS and who didn’t. At my table at lunch were three sets of people from companies and in each case one was an MS sufferer and the other wasn’t. And in each case, until they stood up and needed support or assistance, it would have been impossible to say who had MS. This clearly shows how unpredictable a disease it is, and how it can literally affect anyone at any time.
Scott Mills from Radio 1, whose mum has MS, presented the awards and described it as “an emotional rollercoaster” and boy was he spot on. The awards were a mixture of individuals and groups who support MS sufferers and people with MS who are an inspiration for others. The first group includes partners and employers who go above and beyond, those who are researching to help find a cure and people in the media who are raising the profile of the disease and its consequences.
However, the most lump in throat moments for me here were from the young people who either care for their parents with MS – including a 9 year old girl and two 16 year old girls who have to balance exams, being 16 and looking after their parent – or those raising funds. This latter group included a 10 year old girl who organised a bake sale on her own and an 11 year old boy who swam nearly 1,500 lengths of his swimming pool.
And then there are those who not only live every day with MS but also take the time to raise funds, such as Noel Wilson who is aiming to drive his mobility scooter around every racing circuit in the UK, or who campaign or support through sharing their experiences. Such as Hannah Smith who was diagnosed with relapsing MS at 24 and has set up a blog called An Ordinary Girl with MS where she writes openly about her experiences. The ability of people to lift themselves above a debilitating illness, and not just live every day but inspire others is fantastic.
It feels like a drop in the ocean but I’m really proud that REaD Group are supporting the MS Society this year. I hope you all feel the same and support us in whatever way you can.