Goodness me. The time has finally come to write this post.
For the past five or six years I’ve run Spoonie Survival Kits, my fundraising social enterprise for chronically ill people. We make ‘little bags of happiness’ and other bespoke goodies for chronically ill people, sell them online, and donate a significant proportion of all sales income to various chronic illness charities. Everybody involved with the project has a long-term condition, and over the years we’ve been able to offer accessible volunteering and work experience opportunities for those who might not have had access to these things elsewhere.
Spoonie Survival Kits initially began as a ‘one-time’ project. I made twenty little Kits in my university bedroom and sent them out into the world, having no idea what would follow. The support of the chronic illness community (as well as other key allies!) allowed me to connect with multiple charities, engage with media opportunities, and up-scale into what became a reputable and sustainable social enterprise.
Since those initial first steps, Spoonie Survival Kits has raised a total of £7177.22 (and counting!) split between fourteen deserving causes (September 2020). We’ve sent out over 1000 goodies to recipients in dozens of different countries, and reminded people living with debilitating conditions that they’re not alone and that they haven’t been forgotten. All of the Spoonie Survival Kits we’ve listed were created for chronically ill people, by chronically ill people, taking into account the unique needs that come with living with various symptoms.
It’s been a wild ride. Goodness me, it’s been a wild ride. But like all good things, it’s time for Spoonie Survival Kits to come to an end.
But not without a bang. Stay with me, guys.
If you know me, you may be aware that my life has significantly changed since I first began SSK. As the enterprise has grown over the past few years, so has my own career. I’m pursuing opportunities I never thought I would have, and dare I say it, my line of work is helping facilitate change for individuals with long-term health conditions. The pressure and my workload can often put a great deal of strain on my fragile health, but I’ve just about been keeping my head above water.
Fundraising and supporting the incredible work of charities has always been important to me, and from around 2017 onwards I’ve managed (with the vital support of others) to balance the necessities of running a small business alongside my other commitments. But here’s the thing: all of the time I could realistically spare for SSK would always be gobbled up by the administrative and financial side of keeping the enterprise afloat. As much as I’ve longed to, I just haven’t had the time or energy to do what we did best: creating new products and reaching new audiences, sharing key messages, and continuing to develop. In short, I just haven’t been able to give Spoonie Survival Kits the same level of commitment it deserves.
With that in mind, we’re now beginning to wind down the enterprise. Spoonie Survival Kits will come to an end in 2021, once all of our existing Kits and goodies have found a loving home.
We will, however, still be offering our iconic Christmas Kits this year… not Advent Calendars like last year, but a slightly new take on our seasonal goodies. They’ll be launching within the next month or so, so make sure you keep your eyes peeled on our social media pages and on Etsy.
As always there’s limited stock, and I’ll of course take any opportunity to flex the fact that in 2019 over half of our Christmas goodies sold out within the first minute of going live. I’ll never forget that moment.
Now. Here’s the important thing. Over the past few years, fifty percent of all sales income has been donated to worthy causes, and the remaining fifty percent has been used to cover the costs of running SSK. However, as we begin to wind down, there will be fewer funds we’ll need to balance the books.
As a result, 100% of all sales income from October onwards will be donated to our next chosen charity. Every single penny you pay for one of our goodies will help fund an incredibly worthy cause.
So, let me tell you a bit about our chosen charity for this final fundraising period. I’m thrilled to bits to share that our final chosen cause is Astriid, a small charity that helps connect chronically ill people with inclusive employment opportunities. Astriid helps candidates develop their skills and CVs, giving them access to a platform of opportunities in various sectors where employers will be consciously aware and accommodating of any needs or adjustments. The charity also works and consults with employers and organisations, helping them to recognise the power of a more diverse workforce and inspiring them to create more inclusive opportunities for the ‘Invisible Talent Pool’ of chronically ill people who wish to pursue work.
I joined the Astriid team at the beginning of the year, and although we’re currently a small charity, I can already see the waves the enterprise is making. We’re finally beginning to break our way through some of the barriers chronically ill people have faced for years and years… and this is where it becomes a bit emotional for me.
One of the reasons I founded Spoonie Survival Kits was because of a lack of opportunities for people with debilitating health conditions. I struggled to find accessible volunteering and fundraising engagements that I could manage with my illness, and the lack of remote and inclusive opportunities really took its toll on my feelings of self-worth. SSK came about as a personal response to this. It helped reinforce the fact that I still had valuable skills and experience to offer, and it meant that I could extend opportunities to other people who felt the same way I once had.
To know that we’re concluding Spoonie Survival Kits by fundraising for a cause like Astriid really feels like a full-circle moment. My life has changed significantly over the last five years, and though the world hasn’t quite evolved at the same rate, we’re beginning to see tentative improvements in the field of accessible employment. I couldn’t find inclusive volunteering and work that matched my skills, and now a big part of my career is helping advocate for and create these life-changing roles for other people. Spoonie Survival Kits started due to a lack of accessible opportunities, and will end by supporting a charity that’s tackling this problem right at its very core. And that feels pretty amazing, to be honest.
Now, I cannot emphasise this next point enough: this is not the end of my fundraising. Not at all.
Something I’ve finally learned over the past few years is the importance of making informed decisions about how best to use your time and energy. As I mentioned earlier, the sheer levels of admin that come with running a social enterprise took up the vast majority of my time, and I came to realise that trying to run a completely separate business to my own work just isn’t the smartest way I could utilise the limited energy I have. As such, any future fundraising efforts will make use of my own established platforms, here on Life Of Pippa. This is my next move to bring everything under one umbrella, so I can give as much of my time as possible to things that will genuinely make an impact.
On a personal level, I know that saying goodbye to Spoonie Survival Kits won’t be easy, and it definitely hasn’t hit me yet. Something that makes it a lot easier, however, is feeling in my gut that this is the right thing to do. This isn’t a decision I’ve made lightly (and in all honesty, it’s one I’ve been considering for the last 18 months!), but I know with complete certainty that I’m doing the right thing and that this is the right time to do it. And I hope more than anything that you lovely lot who are reading this will understand this decision too.
So, as I mentioned, this isn’t quite the end yet… but it’s the beginning of a transition period. The most important thing you need to know is that 100% of income from all sales, from the 1st October onwards, will be donated to Astriid – an incredibly worthy cause that I can hand on heart say is already changing the lives of hundreds of chronically ill people. If I’ve convinced you sufficiently, you can head over to Spoonie Survival Kits on Etsy to treat yourself or a loved one. Go on… you know you want to.
It’s not the time for thank yous and goodbyes yet, but everybody who’s been involved with Spoonie Survival Kits has been informed of these plans ahead of this post going live. When the time comes, there will be an abundance of expressions of gratitude to share.
For now, however, here is my thank you that hasn’t become any less heartfelt over these last few years. I truly believe that SSK was the springboard that enabled me to go on and do other things in this line of work, and I know for a fact it wouldn’t have become what it is today without the ongoing support of people around me. I’ll never, ever take that for granted.
If you’ve read this to the end, the chances are that you’re one of the people who have supported me or SSK over the years. Whether you’ve volunteered your time, purchased from our Etsy shop, or simply showed your support online and spread the word, I appreciate you more than you know. I hope I’ve done you proud.
So for now, let’s enjoy these final months wholeheartedly. Let’s raise as much as we possibly can for our final chosen charity, and let’s get excited about the Christmas Kits! I know I say it every year and I know you’ll roll your eyes… but these really are my favourite ones ever.
Seriously. I can’t even deal with the adorableness.