CFDC walking for Coatbridge Community Foodbank
John Gibson walking for the canmore trust

Why These Two Walks are Making The World a Better Place

 

This month we’d like to veer off the dental trail slightly and take you walking down two other paths, which we hope you’ll find thought provoking. They are both stories of people working hard to try to make the world a better place for everyone.

 

The first is a tale of our team’s amazing efforts to raise money and awareness within our local community. The second, the inspiring story of a man and his family trying to find meaning following the death of their son and make the world a safer space.

Signpost pointing to CFDC walk for foodbank and the other sign pointing to John Gibson's walk for suicide awareness

At CFDC we like to help others

 

At Coatbridge Family Dental Care we think it’s important to help others. It’s always been a part of our ethos. Over the years, with the help of our generous patients, we’ve raised money for many different charities. Usually by doing some sort of crazy event. None of us will forget the freezing cold day in June we spent doing The Major. ‘Running’ through icy rivers, crawling through mud under cargo nets and being electrocuted! We’re not sure if Lana ever truly recovered from it! But we did raise over £1000 for Maggie’s, so it was definitely worth it.

Coatbridge Family Dental Care team doing the major to raise money for maggies

Why we chose Coatbridge Community Food Bank

 

This year, we wanted to concentrate on a charity close to home. One of our patients is heavily involved in Coatbridge Community Food Bank. When we were dropping off food and vouchers at Christmas with her, she told us how much the community uses the food bank. And also about the amazing work all the volunteers there do.

Gillian at the foodbank

Why do we need food banks?

 

The first food bank was set up in the UK in 2000, to help those who were struggling to feed themselves due to financial hardship. Just over 20 years later, there are over 2200 food banks in the UK.

Coatbridge Community Food Bank receives referrals of individuals and families who are struggling to buy food from 70 agencies, including the Citizen’s Advice Bureau, the local authority and GP surgeries.

Over the last two months, the food bank has provided food parcels to over 400 adults and 250 children. According to the volunteers this is close to double the need last year. They predict this to increase even further with the cost of living rising and they currently find themselves dangerously low on stock.

The food bank operates with about 20 volunteers and receives referrals from 70 agencies,  All the food they distribute is donated by the public or bought with money donated by the public.

If you would like to donate to the food bank, they are currently in need of:

Long life milk , sugar, diluting juice, tinned meats, tinned meals, mayonnaise, lentils, stock cubes, tinned veg, noodles, kids snacks and toiletries.

The address of the food bank is 25 Coatbank Street, Coatbridge ML5 3SP.  Opening hours are Monday, Wednesday and Friday, 10am-2.30pm.

How we are raising money and awareness

 

Our team is very varied and consists of all ages. We also have several new mums and parents with small children, so finding something we could all do to raise money was a bit of a challenge. However, as we all know, walking is simple, free and one of the easiest ways to get more active, and become healthier.

 

And so the CFDC Big Walk to Spain was born!

 

For the last month, we’ve been walking, jogging and hiking. With each other and with friends and family (including babies and dogs!). Around our neighbourhoods and sometimes in our garages when the babies finally go to sleep! The grand plan is to walk the equivalent of the 1455 miles from Coatbridge to Spain. In the process we will be increasing awareness of our local food bank and helping raise much-needed funds for them.

Laura walking on her treadmill
Eilidh out walking
Keith and Gillian walking
Mhairi Louise walking
CFDC team walking for Coatbridge Community Food bank

Note the awesome t-shirts to raise awareness, designed by Jill.

The team are doing a great job of getting out and about and have already walked about a quarter of the way! The added bonus is that it’s helping us all to get a little bit fitter and improving our mental health too.

 

You can support the team by clicking on the link at the end of today’s blog.

 

 

Introducing John Gibson

 

The second path that we’d like to take you on today is one with Professor John Gibson. John is a very well-kent face in Scottish dentistry. He was known as Dr Gibson in our days at Glasgow Dental Hospital and he taught us everything we needed to know about oral medicine.

 

There are some teachers you forget from dental school and there are some who stay with you forever. Whenever Dr Gibson is mentioned by one of our friends from uni, someone always has a lovely memory of him to share.

 

He was the person who helped me discover I had a latex allergy and I can still remember being grilled by him about it in my final oral exam. I really felt that he cared that when I got out into the real world I was going to look after myself and not just my patients.

Professor John Gibson

Image via https://www.abdn.ac.uk/news/12338/

A life-changing event

 

A couple of weeks ago, I listened to John deliver a moving webinar about the death of his 24-year old son, Cameron. Cameron died by suicide on 20th October 2019.

 

It was heartbreaking to listen to John’s very honest account of something so personal. Cameron had not been unwell and there was no indication that this was something that he was thinking of doing. To this day the family still do not know why Cameron died.

John spoke of the increase in ‘spontaneous suicides’, where those who take their own lives have no history of mental health disturbance. He asked us:

“What if suicide is increasingly the evidence of a stressed society that is boiling over?

 

“That perhaps such things as social media, politics, power and fame are making the world a toxic place that is just too painful for some people to live in.”

John suggests this makes us all responsible for suicide prevention. He asked that we all take time to make the small corner of our world less toxic, less hostile and less broken. He wants part of Cameron’s legacy for the world to be a kinder, more caring, more gracious and more compassionate place. I don’t think that’s too much for him to ask of any of us.

Finding Purpose

 

John has, understandably, found dealing with his grief very difficult. His way of finding meaning and purpose from Cameron’s death is to:

  • raise awareness of suicide
  • help us to understand how we can help those with suicidal thoughts or behaviours
  • work to create safe spaces for anyone affected by suicidal distress.

 

To do this, John and his family have set up a charity called ‘The Canmore Trust’.

The canmore trust
On 13th June this year, John will set out with his wife Isobel, on the 1200 mile walk from Lands End to John O’Groats (LEJOG) to launch the charity. He hopes that as many people as possible can join him along the route (see below). Their aim is to raise £250 000 to create the safe spaces that John talks about. But more than anything else, as he says, it’s to get people talking about suicide.
Walk schedule lejog

What is a safe space?

 

The Canmore Trust’s mission is to:

“Create safe spaces for lives impacted by suicide.”

John defines three types of safe space:

 

  • A mental safe space

Where your mind cannot cause you harm. A mental safe space is free from thoughts of hopelessness, isolation and depression. 

 

  • A physical safe space

A place where you are unable to be hurt in your immediate surroundings. A physical safe space protects those in suicidal distress from hurting themselves. 

 

  • A societal safe space

Where the people and services that surround you do not cause you active harm. A societal safe space – be that your community, your workplace, or anywhere else – supports you when you are in suicidal distress. 

 

The charity wants us all to work together to create:

“A world where people feel mentally, physically and societally safe enough to stay.”

How to help someone who is having suicidal thoughts

 

Part of the webinar was also to teach us what to do if we know someone who is having suicidal thoughts. To help to increase suicide awareness I’d like to do that now.

 

If you have concerns that someone you know may be thinking of taking their own life, ask them directly:

“Are you thinking about suicide/killing yourself?”

Don’t lessen the question by saying, “Are you thinking about death?”

And don’t use a judging phrase, “You’re not planning on doing anything stupid are you?”

 

It’s important to note that asking someone will not put the idea of suicide in their head.

 

If they answer yes, and they want to talk about it, listen to them with empathy and allow them to share their story. Don’t try to “fix” things.

 

Connect them with help (Call 999 or go to A&E) and stay with them until they receive help or take them to help.

Summary

 

These are two very different walking challenges, but for two extremely important causes. Thanks for staying with me until the end. I hope you’ve found both these stories, of people working hard to make the world a better place, thought provoking.

 

 

Further info and how to help

 

Find out more about Coatbridge Community Food Bank

You can follow the efforts of our team on Instagram and Facebook

You can follow John on his walk by using #onemanwalkingamilliontalking
If you feel distressed by the contents of this blog or are having suicidal thoughts please speak to a friend, colleague or family member, or call the Samaritans on 116 123.

 

If you have lost someone close to you from suicide, contact Survivors of Bereavement By Suicide (SOBS)