31 May City Giving Day participants share volunteer stories for National Volunteers' Week
Why I wear The Green Ribbon: Kate Finnis
For Mental Health Awareness Week, we sat down with Kate Finnis, Corporate Partners Manager at The Lord Mayor's Appeal about why she wears the Green Ribbon...
Having been part of businesses and organisations who promoted and supported This is Me, I was wearing the Green Ribbon long before I joined The Lord Mayor's Appeal. I had felt proud to sport the ribbon as a sign I was supportive of, and open to conversations with, anyone who was looking for an ally on their mental health journey.
Having spent my earlier adult years living in the US, the cultural differences between the countries really hit me when I returned to London. I’d never acknowledged how closed off we were in the UK in sharing our feelings, struggles and, most importantly, being comfortable asking for help with their mental wellbeing. Nor had I appreciated the huge gaps and many failings in our system in supporting those who need and seek it.
"I had felt proud to sport the ribbon as a sign I was supportive of, and open to conversations with, anyone who was looking for an ally on their mental health journey."
As a parent of teens, this was ever more obvious when our youngest son, who had always lived with low levels of anxiety, began to struggle with extreme anxiety. Exacerbated by the covid pandemic, we experienced the most exhausting months of our lives. Fuelled by over-subscribed, already inadequate services, we really had nowhere to turn as the anxiety took over every facet of his life.
"Our youngest son, who had always lived with low levels of anxiety, began to struggle with extreme anxiety."
The feelings of failure as a parent in being unable to find effective support took a huge toll on our family, maybe me mostly as his mum. The child I had supported and nurtured for so many years turned to me begging to make it stop, help him ‘get better’ and asking me why he ‘wasn’t normal.’ At its worst he would tell me it would be better for everyone if he just wasn’t here anymore. I was crushed and overwhelmed by the feeling that I just didn’t know what to do any more. I had no control over anything that he was going through and felt the parental safety blanket I had always been able to give him when he needed it, had been torn to shreds.
"The child I had supported and nurtured for so many years turned to me begging to make it stop, help him get better and asking me why he wasn’t normal."
After a long struggle and some major changes in our lives to accommodate his mental health needs, things did improve, slowly. After hearing from other young people in similar situations we felt less alone. I had a fantastic team of colleagues who I finally shared some of our experience with. They were able to give me the space and support I needed to focus on being there for him, no matter what that looked like.
I would love to say we found some solutions and support he needed through services available to us, but this simply was not the case. It’s no secret that services are overwhelmed, oversubscribed and underfunded. By the time our ‘early intervention’ appointment was available, he had been suffering for over nine months and the five virtual counselling appointments made available came after his self-recovery had started.
"To show that I am here, if they need me or want to talk; or just to have someone to sit with and share space with. If my ribbon helps just one person feel less alone it’s served its purpose."
That’s why I wear the Green Ribbon. Not to have the answers or to pretend I know or understand what they are going through. But to show that I am here, if they need me or want to talk; or just to have someone to sit with and share space with. If my ribbon helps just one person feel less alone it’s served its purpose.
I am hugely proud of the support businesses we work with are able to offer their people through working with The Lord Mayor’s Appeal’s This is Me programme, and constantly inspired by the level of bravery people show in sharing their stories.
Find out more about The Lord Mayor’s Appeal This is Me initiative including the Green Ribbon Campaign here