Dave is walking for mental health – yours, mine, and his!

It’s not unusual to come across ‘characters’ online; the sarcy ones, the sweet ones, the moody ones. In Huddersfield’s online community we’re lucky to have a handful of damn good photographers who capture our town on ‘film’ beautifully, in all weathers, day or night.

Dave Kennedy is one of the latter, and this month he’s using his photographs to show off the best of Huddersfield whilst wandering up-hill and down-dale to raise money for the Mental Health Foundation.

As told by Dave himself.

Kim, Huddersfield Times

November Mental Health Fundraiser (And a post about me, my issues, my life, and how you can help).

In November I’m walking at least 12,000 steps a day (and more than likely a hell of a lot more) to raise funds for the Mental Health Foundation.

For the foreseeable future, I will be raising funds and awareness for mental health and suicide-prevention charities.

Put simply, this is because these two subjects (along with homelessness which I’ve already raised the best part of £3,000 for) are the closest to my heart.

Because I live, every day (and have done for my entire life) with issues that the majority of this society don’t believe, understand or defend – quite simply because my illness doesn’t show itself with physical symptoms, a pair of crutches, a deformity or anything particularly noticeable.

Except for the miserable face or upset tone to my voice which most of you tell me to snap out of, and many more will simply question it because, after all, “Dave Kennedy hasn’t got anything to be upset about”.

As for the subject of suicide and suicidal tendencies, and people who have tried or who have succeeded in taking their own lives, we also get labelled again and again as selfish attention-seeking idiots who dared to hold up your journey home on the M62 by jumping off a bridge.

And yes, I’m one of those ‘selfish attention-seeking idiots’.

Would you call me that to my face if you saw me desperately trying to find a way out of life? With tears streaming down my face, with desperate thoughts of what it would do to my family but still believing that leaving this world is the only answer?

That’s why I raise funds and awareness for these subjects – because they’re close to me, they affect me and they live within me. They are me.

Please donate here if you can, and support and share this post and future posts to help raise funds and awareness of these often-overlooked subjects and issues.

You could save a life. You could even save mine. Thank you for reading.

November 2nd 2021
Walking in local beauty to fundraise and raise awareness for the Mental Health Foundation

Mental Health issues affect millions, including myself, across the world every day and we are often overlooked because a large chunk of society believes that we have got ‘nothing to be upset about’, and that we can just ‘snap out of it’.

Please help to raise funds and awareness by sharing this and other posts, and donating what you can. These pictures are from two 20,000+ step walks, yesterday and today in and around the Colne Valley. Thank you for your support!

November 3rd 2021

Today I’ve covered 15,915 steps and almost 13km so far, and I’m still walking because two situations have upset me today and I needed to clear my head after work.

So I’m on a dark walk near Wilberlee now before I go home to conquer my own struggles again, just like I do nearly every day.

And again.

And again.

If you don’t live with these fears, anxieties and conditions then you have no right to judge us or to chastise and mock us.

Please give what you can to the fundraiser. The link is here. Please share my posts from Facebook where you can, and help to spread and raise awareness of mental health issues as much as you can.

We’ll always be grateful to those of you who do.

November 4th 2021
Beautiful Huddersfield

It’s day 4 of my 12,000+ steps per day to raise money and awareness for the Mental Health Foundation.

Today I’ve walked in the Colne Valley and then to Huddersfield Town Centre and back. After a shift at work that normally finishes around 9pm but ran later tonight, I’ve been doing a dark walk along the tops of the Colne Valley to add to the steps from the daytime.

This is a great opportunity for me to enjoy the beautiful local surroundings, for me to share them with you lot, and to help to share support and raise awareness of mental health issues (including my own) which have become worse in so many people since the Covid crisis began. Sadly, the services and support absolutely have not increased to match this. Services are under massive strain.

Please donate to my fundraising page for this worthy cause, every penny counts. Whether you can donate or not, sharing the fundraiser would be much appreciated!

November 5th 2021

Today I continue to walk to raise funds and awareness for the Mental Health Foundation. The link to the fundraising post is here.

I’ve tried my best to be the rainbow in several people’s clouds over the years and, right now, several people are being the rainbow in mine.

Times have been difficult and I am fighting a daily battle in my head and in my life but I’m winning – via my own strength and the support and friendship of a selection of diamonds who I am proud to call my friends. Look for the signs and try to be there for your friends and family even if they seem to be ok.

Things are very up and down for me. Yesterday I wrote about suicidal thoughts, this morning I posted a joke, and now I’m reminding you that smiles on faces don’t always mean smiles in our minds. And our dancing doesn’t mean that we’re hearing good music. Send love and hugs and best wishes to your friends and family, especially out of the blue or when they least expect it. You could make their day, or save their life.

November 9th 2021
Huddersfield Fundraising Walks

The challenge was to walk at least 12000 steps a day, but on average I’m walking 25,000 steps per day to raise funds for the Mental Health Foundation and to raise awareness of mental health issues.

The pictures are from my last few days, especially yesterday and today where I have covered over 50km so far.

I am currently sitting in St George’s Square enjoying the autumn air.

I am also doing several walks in the name and memory of 19-year-old Slaithwaite man Jamie Buckley, who sadly lost his life earlier this year.

That’s Jamie in the pictures, and his memorial is in the last picture.

Mental health issues are often overlooked, written-off or ignored. Please help to reduce the stigma and the ignorance by donating what you can to the fundraiser and by sharing my posts from Facebook and the website. I hope you enjoy the pictures and thank you for sticking with me as I walk all over Huddersfield.

November 13th 2021
Walking from Linthwaite to Manchester United’s Old Trafford Stadium
In memory of Jamie Buckley

As part of the 12,000 steps per day in November Challenge, today I am walking from the Linthwaite memorial for 19 year old Jamie Buckley to Manchester United’s Old Trafford stadium, approximately a 45km walk.

That’s Jamie below. Jamie had the help and support of a loving family and a close bunch of friends – but 2021 society never afforded him, and thousands like him – both young and old, male and female – the support he needed to help him through his mental health issues.

Please help me to continue to raise awareness and vital funding by sharing the posts and by donating to the fundraiser. Mental health issues are largely ignored and overlooked in everyday life, especially in the younger generation. Many people are afraid to talk about their difficulties, and there are very few who are as vocal about their conditions as I am – largely because we’re not believed or because you think we can just snap out of it, smile, and be cured.

Please donate and share and help to reduce the stigma and the ignorance towards mental health issues. The pictures are from the Huddersfield side of the walk, earlier in the morning. Do it for me, do it for Jamie, do it for us.

Thank you.

Dave’s total for this day was over 66000 steps!

These boots were made for walking…

November 16th 2021

Today was a bit of a comedown after the enjoyable shenanigans of Manchester, and I felt a bit sad and a wee bit lonely, but I still managed to walk 26,720 steps for fundraising for the 12,000 Steps a day in November Challenge for Mental Health Foundation.

When people tell you that mental illness is a rollercoaster ride, they’re absolutely spot on. One minute, or one day, you’re up there with the birds and the next day you’re down at the bottom again. There’s no predicting what will happen. There is no script. There is no rhyme or reason. But what there is, trust me, is a condition that controls and dictates our every move.

And we then have to battle and fight past it to make sure that our next move isn’t a difficult one. Or our last one. Please support and donate. You have no idea how much your support and shares mean to people like myself, and the messages that I’ve received are an absolute blessing. They are sometimes the difference between smiles and tears.

Garry Wakeham

20th November 2021
Suicide awareness

Todays walk, part of my fundraising month for Mental Health Foundation, I am walking in memory of Garry Wakeham.

Garry took his own life at just 39 years of age and was the husband of a friend of mine who has given full permission to use his pictures and his memory for today’s walk.

Suicide, and suicidal tendencies, are a subject that very few people will discuss or acknowledge. Unless like me and several people I know, they have been directly or indirectly affected by them.

We don’t think about taking our own lives because we’re selfish. We think about it or, in the tragic case of Garry and many others like him, we actually go through with it, because we think this world, our loved ones and those who know us will be better off without us.

We believe that we’re a burden. We believe that their lives will be better without us around. Nothing convinces us otherwise. I don’t think this is selfish. Nor do those who have been involved in these situations, nor do the charities such as Stamp Out Suicide and Silence Of Suicide who work every day to reduce the stigma. To reduce the condemnation and to reduce the figures and numbers of suicide victims.

Garry was the father of four children – 7-year-old twin girls, a 9-year-old boy and a 22-year-old young man.

They and their wonderful mother now live life without Garry every day, probably without the understanding of why this happened.

I’m hoping that posts and awareness walks like this will help them, and the families and loved ones of many like them, and people who are themselves in a situation like Garry where they feel the need to end their lives, to see that suicide and suicidal tendencies are part of a mental illness and a debilitating condition which are not, not by a long shot, recognised or treated and supported half as much as they should be.

Rest in peace Garry, and thank you to Kathleen for the permission to do this.

In December I will be raising money for suicide charity Stamp Out Suicide. This month I am raising money for Mental Health Foundation . Click here to donate.

Fifteen people per 100,000 will take their own lives in 2021, and suicide is also the 4th leading cause of death amongst 15 to 19 year olds.

Dave has continued his challenge through to the end of November, you can keep track of what he’s up to here!

If you’ve been affected by any of the issues raised in this piece, here’s some information about organisations that can help.

Text ‘shout’ to 85258 to text with someone who can help
The Mind website has a selection of urgent and non-urgent resources for mental health support here.

Silence of Suicide have a Facebook page where you can get in touch.
Kirklees mental health support – if you need urgent support click here.
You can self-refer to IAPT (Improving Access to Psychological Therapies) here.

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