The Creative Mental Health Charity PoetsIN is well into it’s 4th year as a charity, and we’re rather excited to be looking ahead to a year with quite an exciting array of events and fundraisers; some of which you can get involved with yourself, and some being undertaken by impressive individuals.

One of the latter is the London Marathon, which is, for obvious reasons, being held in October this year. Someone foolish brave enough to run it to raise much needed funds for us is Charlotte Pilbeam. She’s amazing and is already all over our social media. Check out her story below.

The very lovely Charlotte Pilbeam (with a very nice bottle)

Who are you and what do you do?

Hi, I’m Charlotte, a mum of 2 and step mum of 1. I now have no identity other than being a mum, but it’s the greatest job I’ve ever been given. I’m currently working as a Teaching Assistant in a Special Needs School alongside studying for my Primary Education Degree.

How did you get to hear about The Creative Mental Health Charity, PoetsIN?

Someone who I worked with many moons ago is involved in work with PoetsIN. This person has no idea how much they touch people’s lives and leave a lasting impression, and I am sure this is even more true in their work advocating for mental health. I have always felt grateful to have worked with this person and am honoured to be able to represent PoetsIN.

What’s your mental health story?

I became a single mum at 26, my daughters were 3 years and 10 weeks old, by 27 I was divorced. These massive life changes triggered anxiety. When I look back, I can say that I have always suffered with this mildly but when I was then alone, supporting 2 small children, myself and a home, I became overwhelmed. I used to worry A LOT about what I’d do if someone broke into my home and the children and I were there, how would I protect them and myself, I worried about what I’d do if a fire broke out in the home and would literally lose hours of sleep worrying about scenarios that had small chance of happening in reality. When I met my current partner who I am marrying later this year, I also had to take on the challenge of his ex partner who has caused us lots of upset and worry over the last couple of years. All of these things I could manage, just, and then Covid hit us… much like a lot of country, I was overwhelmed with anxiety and worry and I felt a change in myself. I finally sought help from a medical professional and chose not to take medication prescribed (mainly because I kept forgetting) but I am working on overcoming anxiety via counselling at present.

Charlotte and her family

You’re running the London Marathon to raise money for us. Wowzers. Tell us about that.

Let’s start with saying I am not a runner. I’d run up the stairs and be out of breath! I decided to undertake a running challenge for another charity, and then applied to PoetsIN to run for them in the marathon. I found out 10 days into my first charity challenge that I had got the place. So many things ran through my mind at that moment, but I was so grateful for the opportunity. It’s also given me something to put all of my energy into (what’s left of it after a day of parenthood) which has been really good for me. I’m having a really positive response to my charity fundraising so far which has been such a confidence boost.

What are you most excited about and most nervous about?

I’m most excited to see all those £‘s total up to reach my end goal (and maybe I’ll lose a few pounds along the way too!)

I’m most nervous about the training, it seems I’m prone to shin splints, so I’ve invested in some good running trainers, shin compressions, a cryotherapy ball, I’ll be a pro in sports massage by the end of this. But even if I have to crawl over the finish line, I will be getting over it.

So why The Mental health Charity? What drew you to us in particular?

I think helping people via creative means is so unique; as well as helping people you’re also inspiring them to let out their emotions via creative means. Writing, painting, drawing etc are all so good for letting out pain, sadness, anger and any emotion really.

When I had both my children, I started a book that I write to them in when big things happen in their life. It is full of my pain that I felt when I became a single parent and I felt I had failed them in the fact they had a broken home. It was so therapeutic to write things that I didn’t want to tell anyone. I had no one to talk to who was in my shoes, so they couldn’t really help and I was embarrassed. I also started one for my stepdaughter too. When they are all old enough, they can read the books and see the happy and sad times we have been through together, and they’ll know that I did all I could to give them the best life I can. Until that time, I can look at it and see how far I have come and how much stronger I have grown.

You’re not just running a marathon to raise money – you’re doing more. Tell us about that.

I have lots of amazing prizes that I will be raffling at different times. The prizes vary from professional family photo shoots, cakes, cakes and more cakes, hampers some will be self-care, some will be sweets and treats, a day at a luxury beach hut.

I’ll also be holding bake sales throughout the year, all of which baker friends are generously helping with. I love knowing people are in with a chance to win something to make them smile, as well as supporting me and the charity.

What are you finding is the most challenging or eye opening so far?

I’ve found that this fundraising has shown lots of people in the world are only out for themselves. I have always supported small businesses, friends’ new business endeavours, sponsorships and support on social media platforms by sharing etc. Now that it’s me who needs the support, it seems a lot of people don’t feel they should repay the favour. I know we don’t give to receive, but it doesn’t take much to show a little support, even if it’s just sharing my fundraising page.

Many of us find that exercise is an excellent way to manage mental as well as physical health. Does running help you?

Erm, I mean it makes me worry that my shins might shatter into 1000 tiny pieces rather than the other stuff I worry about ? but on a serious note, I do love putting on my running playlist and just going! Even in the cold weather, it’s been really refreshing. My youngest daughter loves it when I take her running pushing her in her pram, and shouts at me to go faster. Her little smile looking up at me is so lovely to see. My eldest daughter sometimes accompanies me on her bicycle and tells me what a good job I’m doing and is very encouraging. It’s given me opportunity to be active with them both which is great.

We are so proud to be supported by you. Is there any way that others can support you, and how?

Dig deep and buy a raffle ticket (I’m only half joking). I am so proud to represent your charity and love spreading awareness of PoetsIN and the wonderful work that you all do. I have a health and lifestyle Instagram account called eaton___mess and if anyone would like to follow my training journey then they can find me there, and any shares to raise awareness of my fundraising efforts would be amazing.

In an ideal world, who would you love to get support from?

Dr Alex George. He has recently become our country’s government mental health ambassador. He is very passionate about mental health and coping tools being taught in schools after his younger brother sadly took his own life. He is such an inspiration and is pioneering to help young people understand how to look after their mental health.

Look for this and type in the money you want to sponsor her for. Click pic for link.

Can people donate to the fundraising?

People can donate here:

Is there one quote or song that inspires you?

The only time you should ever look back, is to see how far you’ve come.

This is so true and relatable. Every day we continue to grow into better versions of ourselves and one day everyone will look back and be proud of the journey they have been on.

What social media channels can people follow you on?

My health and lifestyle account is called eaton___mess (Eaton will be my new surname when I’m married, and because when I started the account I was an overweight, unhealthy mess). I post regular updates of my marathon journey on this page.

Thanks to Charlotte for the interview, and the mental and physical challenge she’s set herself in undertaking this huge challenge. Please show your support by sponsoring her, following her, entering her raffles and giving her a virtual and disctanced high five. You rock, Charles Charlie Charles! Keep you eyes peeled for other events and fundraisers.

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