Creating A Social Enterprise With A Chronic Illness – The Story Of Spoonie Survival Kits

As I say goodbye to Spoonie Survival Kits, it felt only right to reflect on how the heck we even got here. Indulge me while I tell you the story, will you?

The Background

2014 Pippa really wasn’t thriving. On the outside I was trying to live my best life and enjoy being a student, but inside I was reeling from finally, finally being diagnosed with a chronic illness – a diagnosis that had raised more questions than it had answered. I had absolutely no idea what the future would hold. It was a struggle to get through each day, not only physically from the toll of ME/CFS symptoms, but mentally too. For a long time, I felt completely dispensable. I’d lost my sense of purpose, and I’d definitely lost my sparkle.

I can still remember the exact moment that the concept of Spoonie Survival Kits came to me. A few months after my diagnosis, full of listening and learning, I’d begun mulling over what I could do to raise some much-needed money for ME/CFS charities. I obviously couldn’t do any sponsored walks or runs or anything that involved physical activity beyond the mammoth remit of putting the kettle on, and I wanted to do something a bit different to the usual (albeit incredibly beneficial) care package schemes that are popular in the chronic illness community. I wanted to do something where I could simultaneously raise money for deserving causes, spread a bit of cheer, and ideally not completely destroy myself in the process.

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Volunteering From Home – Flexible, Inclusive Opportunities For All

pippa sat cross legged on bed in comfy lounge clothes, laptop on knee, looking up and smiling

I firmly believe that there’s no such thing as too many acts of kindness. In light of the current situation, it’s been so heartwarming to see the general public coming forward to volunteer, asking what they can do to help others.

With restrictions on work, socialising and leaving the house, many people are suddenly finding themselves with time on their hands. Now, I know as well as you do that this time could readily be passed motherlode-ing to your heart’s content on The Sims or watching Netflix all day every day, but hear me out here: what if I told you that you could easily support deserving charities and the vulnerable people they work with… without leaving your home?

I know first-hand that living with a health condition that makes it difficult to get out and about means it’s much more challenging to find opportunities where you really feel as though you’re doing something worthwhile. And since us chronically ill folk have so much to offer, it’s time we look at ways of getting around these hurdles.

So today, let me introduce you to a few potential ways you can volunteer from home. Whilst they’re not specifically related to the pandemic, I’m sure you’ll agree that the charity sector could do with your support now more than ever. We’ll start with the more established schemes, and then move on to more general suggestions for how you can use your initiative to find opportunities that suit your skills…

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Chronically Ill Entrepreneurs: Ones To Watch in 2019

I once saw a quote reading “when you buy from a small business, an actual person does a little happy dance”, and it really stuck with me. I absolutely love the sentiment of supporting independent creators, all the more so when I know they’re affected by long-term illness too. Employment and disability don’t always go hand in hand, something I’ve discussed many a time, and as I’m sure any of the following people will agree, it’s no small feat trying to earn a living when dealing with your health is a full-time job in itself.

Below is a super quick post that’s been sitting in my drafts for far too long, where I’ve highlighted some of my favourite chronically ill entrepreneurs and their businesses. I’m sure there are dozens more I could mention too, but the following are all organisations I’ve purchased from myself in the past and cannot speak highly enough of. And if you have some favourites of your own, do tell! I’d absolutely love to hear them in the comments below.

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