Walking trails, running from point to point, focusing on time, splits & calorie intake are things many of us have some relation to. In the past year theres been a shift to Fastest Known Times (FKT’s) & personal projects, with deeper relationships to the land these athletic feats are undertaken on, with wide spread race cancellations & postponements…. Lets not use the word.
It would be easy on first glance to pigeon hole Neil Read’s trek into this category. A new route, it will be completed in a time, others may chose to follow suit.
But Neil’s My Black Dog Trek is not about the time, planned nutritional strategies, split charts & all out effort.
On Monday 6th September at 7AM, Neil will walk from Clifton Suspension Bridge to Beachy Head, 171 miles of trail & road, all to raise awareness & funds for My Black Dog. These two spots are renowned suicide spots in the UK, and Neil will complete the trek in 5 days around World Suicide Prevention day, the 10th September. My Black Dog is a charity set up in 2018, a free web chat service, for any adult who needs someone to speak to about their mental health. The difference, the volunteers in the chats all have their own lived mental health experiences. It’s not a crisis line or a source for professional help, but a place any adult can talk to someone who gets it.
Neil says “I was diagnosed with depression 4 years ago and have been in some very dark places, mentally. I got to breaking point; thinking of leaving my wife and child and that led to suicidal thoughts. This is when I stumbled across My Black Dog. I spent about 2 hours messaging someone who not only gave me an outlet, but someone who said that they know how I feel, and truly meant it. This is because it is run by people who have and still are suffering from mental health problems. My Black Dog has saved my life twice over the last 2 years and I am trekking to reach out to more people like me”.
The average My Black Dog chat is 38 minutes in duration.
These can range from providing an opportunity for someone to speak to engaging in a free flowing conversation. Whats important is providing the opportunity for those in need to have a safe space they feel they can be open.
My Black Dog has grown to supporting over 500 guests a month through their service, and has seen a 2000% increase in chats during the 2020 pandemic year. Guests contact for many reasons but loneliness and anxiety have become the dominant reasons for contacting the charity.
I’d be stoked for those who can to send him support next week, be it a DM, comment on a post or a small donation to enable more people to utilise the service.
I’ve met Neil through being a fellow volunteer, spent time on the trail together & we are in the fortunate position to see the good My Black Dog provides to anyone who opts to chat.
All the best Neil, your heart is huge, your motivation unquestionable.
If you’d like to support Neil & My Black Dog, his fundraising page can be FOUND HERE
To reach out a support Neil during his trek with words, his instagram account can be FOUND HERE
For more information on My Black Dog, CLICK HERE