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200 People to Save Ali Quant January 13, 2011

Posted by Phil Groom in Appeals, Death, Life.
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I have changed my socks

I have changed my socks

YESTERDAY I was feeling frivolous and I changed my socks. Yes, it happened. Unfortunately the yeast was too strong and my bread collapsed, but that’s another story.

Today, however, I am in a more serious frame of mind and I would like you to join me in a campaign to save my friend Ali Quant.

Ali has been a victim of serious domestic abuse and is battling and blogging her way through various mental health issues, all of which you can find out about on her blog, Purple Noise. She’s also a great Scrabble player, which is one of the (admittedly more selfish) reasons why I cannot allow her to go through with her recently announced plan to commit suicide if our inglorious government (yes, David Cameron, that’s you and your crew I’m talking about) pushes her over the edge with its programme of benefit cuts that is demoralising many of the most vulnerable people in our society such as Ali. In fact, it wouldn’t be suicide: it would be murder, death by a thousand cuts from a knife wielded by the UK Government — the very people whose job it is to take care of the poor, the weak, the vulnerable on our behalf as taxpayers.

So I have a plan. It’s simple: I need 200 people who will stand with me in committing themselves to a regular monthly gift of £5 to Ali. That works out at £12,000 per year (more than I earn, as it happens) and I think Ali is worth far more than that. She may be unable to work in the conventional sense of the word, but through her blog (alongside many others: see the Madosphere links in my sidebar)  she is providing an essential service to our society: helping to erase the stigma of mental illness by telling it how it is; and exposing the shabbiness of our government’s policies and the impact those policies are having upon people’s lives.

At the same time as publishing this I’m setting up a facebook group with the same name: 200 People to Save Ali Quant. Even if you’re not in a position to make the regular financial commitment I’m asking for, please consider joining it anyway to show your solidarity with Ali — and please spread the word: between us all, between my friends and yours, we must be able to find 200 people, maybe more, who can make this level of commitment. You may be able to offer more, in which case we may not need 200 people; or less, in which case we may need more. I’m not asking for any money right now; what I’m asking for is commitment to the cause: to make the effort to pull Ali back from the brink onto which the government is pushing her and let her know what we think she’s worth, that we think her life is worth living, that we think she is making an important contribution to our society.

The world needs people like Ali Quant: people who aren’t ashamed to describe what they’ve been through, what they’re going through and who aren’t afraid to shine a light on the government’s failings. If and when those failings reach the point Ali describes and she feels she has to jump, that’s when I’ll come asking for your money: if it helps, think of this as a safety net; but please don’t commit if you’re not prepared for that safety net to be deployed — this is not a game, this is a person’s life.

I realise that in a sense doing this is precisely what Cameron wants us to do with his bleating on about the ‘Big Society’ — “Let’s get people off state benefits into community care”, or something like that. To that I say up yours to Cameron et al: the vast majority of this country didn’t vote for you and we don’t want you or need you: go back to your world of privilege and reward for failed bankers — one day it’s all going to collapse around your head. The ‘Big Society’ was here long before you were and we, the people, will continue to take care of one another with or without your help using our money (and speaking of our money, if there’s anyone reading who’s in a position to advise or help on registering the group as a charity, we should then be able to claim tax back via Gift Aid on taxpayer’s donations; and that, I think, would be a result!).

Will you stand with me? Will you spread the word? Will you help to save Ali from our cut-throat government?

Finally and very importantly: please note that I haven’t consulted Ali about this. When I hit ‘Publish’ it’s going to be as much a surprise for her as it is for everyone else. This is me, Phil Groom, asking, not Ali … because if I know Ali at all, she’d never make this request: she’d die first. But I’m not willing to sit idly by and let that happen.

And if we get more than I’m asking for, there are others out there whose blogging deserves better recognition too, starting with another of my friends, Pandora Serial Insomniac

Where Next?

Comments

1. titflasher - January 13, 2011

Phil, I’m not working at the moment so can’t do regular contributions but Ali knows she always has a roof over her head at mine. Will definitely join the facebook group. This is an excellent idea (although she might want to kick you!) and when I am working I will definitely contribute. One thing I will say though – we need to check that this won’t affect any benefits she is entitled to or keep it right under the radar.

Phil Groom - January 13, 2011

Yep, I’m sure she’ll want to kick me; which is why I didn’t ask her about it first coz she’d’ve told me not to do it. Too late now.

Since I haven’t collected any money yet, it shouldn’t affect benefits; but if we collect enough we can politely but firmly tell the benefits people to go — well, you get the idea. Let’s make the benefits people redundant and see how they like having to claim from their twisted system…

Can easily make this post password-protected and make the fb group private if necessary.

2. hidihidi - January 13, 2011

Count me in Phil. Well done. :)

3. uselesscpn - January 13, 2011

I’m in. But I’m with titflasher on the benefits issue, need to look into that a bit more x

4. Karita - January 13, 2011

I’m in. But making everything private could reduce the impact of this. Not sure. If people can’t see the group how can they join?

titflasher - January 14, 2011

Karita – this is very true. If you have any ideas about how we still get this around without compromising Ali’s benefits, that would be great!

5. Pandora - January 13, 2011

Like titflasher, I couldn’t afford monthly payments as the government is screwing me completely too and I’m drowning in debt. However, if it in any way helps Ali, I would be more than willing to send what I can afford, when I can afford it. And anyway, I completely support the campaign, so count me in :)

Thank you, Phil, for such a generous and hopeful idea :)

And thank you very much for the mention too <3 *big hugs*

Pan xxx

titflasher - January 13, 2011

*love!

6. Aliquant - January 14, 2011

Now I’ve got my breath back and I’ve stopped shaking enough to type a coherent sentence… ;)

Can I first say how completely totally bowled over I am by this. For someone to even have the thought of doing something like this in the first place is amazing enough, but to see people agreeing and actually wanting to help is just beyond what my brain can process, I never thought in a million years when I first posted that blog that something like this would happen. I simply can’t find the words to say how grateful I am that people – most of whom I’ve never even met – would want to help in this way. It’s just brilliant, I can’t tell you what it means to me Phil that you’ve come up with this and everyone else has joined in. Even if this is it, even if it never goes beyond this blog post, just the fact that it’s happened has touched me so deeply and given me so much renewed strength to try to face this year. Bearing in mind I made my decision a long time ago that if I didn’t get through this assessment I’d delete myself, and that’s not something I can easily switch off. But it feels now like maybe when the time comes that I might be able to fight a bit harder or a bit longer than I felt able to before – not saying it’s suddenly going to be a walk in the park, but at least I can see that the possibility is there of maybe getting a bit further than before.

How about if, instead of making this a let’s help Ali thing, how about a more general let’s help everyone thing? Phil I really hope you don’t think I’m being ungrateful for what you’ve done (or that I’m kicking you!). But let me explain my thinking: the reality is, as many of you will know, that I’m not the only one who’s made a deletion plan in case I fail my assessment. Over the past year or so (and obviously more in the past few days) I have heard from different sources of literally hundreds of people who feel the exact same way I do, this is just from people coming and directly telling me “I feel like this” or “I have a friend who says…” there must be thousands more that I haven’t had direct contact with. I’m nothing special, I’m not some kind of extreme case and I haven’t done anything to deserve to be singled out. All I did was write a blog post out of sheer despair, I thought I was so near the end that I had absolutely nothing to lose so I may as well write about it. So why not make some kind of central fund, not necessarily asking for a monthly donation to support people in that way but just a fund that could be used for anyone in my situation? It could be used to help people if they fall over at any stage of claiming benefits, to give people a safety net for example to help out while they’re appealing or if they haven’t been able to attend all the work-focused interviews and get sanctioned. There are a million things going round my head of all the possibilities where it would be useful to people and I’m a bit emotional and tired now so I’m not doing a very good job of explaining, but do you understand the sort of thing I mean?

That way it could be made much more public and hopefully attract more support, and go to help more people than just me, and then no single person would be in the DWP’s firing line. Another thing is, you know there is still the possibility that I will get through the assessment unscathed [OK it's a small possibility but it's there...] and then there would be all these people willing to help and nowhere for the help to go, it would be such a shame to waste that.

I really hope that my suggestion hasn’t taken away from the initial idea, I still can’t believe Phil did this and that everyone else is supporting it, it’s just so unexpected and amazing and I can’t tell you how much it means to me.

A x

Phil Groom - January 14, 2011

Hey Ali *big hugs* — glad you’re getting the idea of how much we all love you :)

What you’re suggesting is excellent, takes my idea to the next level; and although you, Ali, may think you’re nothing special, I disagree. But yes, you’re right about the bigger picture: let’s do both! Between us all, let’s get as many people in on this as possible…

7. titflasher - January 14, 2011

Ali, we love you and we want to keep you with us and I am so glad that our support has made a difference. I think this is a GREAT idea although it would be quite an admin task eg- who would manage the finances, how we we make decisions about who is supported and why (sorry, my managerial brain is kicking in). May I suggest that instead of opening it up entirely, we agree on a group that needs support (and I can’t think of a better one within the MapUp) and restrict it to this? Or perhaps anyone outside of the Madup is nominated? I know this sounds exclusionist and I guess it is, I just think it is an excellent idea and am trying to think of ways to simplify it. Btw will pm you so you know who I am on fb xx

8. Karita - January 14, 2011

Ali, what a wonderful idea. I was also wondering, if lots of us could re-post something like this, as we all have different audiences and could spread the idea quite far, I think.

What do you think?

This weekend, starting today, is Broken of Britain – http://thebrokenofbritain.blogspot.com/2010/12/announcing-one-month-before-heartbreak.html – so would be a perfect time to do some thinking about Ali’s idea and get posting.
:)

Phil Groom - January 14, 2011

Spot on, Karita :)

9. Tweets that mention 200 People to Save Ali Quant « Phil's Boring Blog -- Topsy.com - January 14, 2011

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Phil Groom, Phil Groom. Phil Groom said: 200 People to Save Ali Quant: http://wp.me/pgrvb-m8 [...]

10. Pandora - January 14, 2011

Great pos, Ali, and great point Karita that this coincides nicely with The Broken of Britain campaign.

Also titflasher – even if your idea is exclusionary, there are a couple of points to note. One, given limited resources we simply can’t help everyone we’d like to. Secondly, mentalists are going to be some of the worst affected by this. Not the only ones, sure, but still. Because ATOS/SSA “assessment”, and even general diagnosis, are such apparently subjective, untestable things, we are some of the most likely be seen as malingering wasters. So, given our personal connection to these people and these factors, I think it makes sense to ‘limit’ it to our fellow mentals :) Of course, if the response was massive, it could always be extended.

I’m DM those I trust the password and link to this post.

You are all brilliant <3 xxx

11. titflasher - January 14, 2011

Right – we’re on!! Pandora yes I agree we need to limit this. And Mentalists are also the most vulnerable to this in so many ways, not just the perception of malingering but also in the sheer lack of support to cope with the changes or contest them. I shall put my thinking cap on and contact those who I think would be able to help and also would be able to keep it quiet xx

12. CatatonicKid (aka Kate) - January 14, 2011

I’m in! Most excellent notion. and *hugs* to all :)

hrm. also, quick thought- perhaps could create an online support forum for everybody effected by the cuts and friends and such?

That way even if people can’t contribute with dosh we can at least gripe together, and work through the common difficulties together. Solutions come easier and feel more achievable with more socks in the drawer.

13. CatatonicKid (aka Kate) - January 14, 2011

also – guarantees privacy better.

14. A True Big Society « If Narky, Feed Profusely - January 14, 2011

[...] was not originally my idea, Phil Groom is (contact him for the password), but it is an idea I am so happy to stand up for. I believe that [...]

15. sanabituranima - January 15, 2011

Hi. I am willing and able to commit to giving Ali £5 per month, but I’m not on facebook (and would prefer not to be on facebook, though if I have to then obviously I will.)

Phil Groom - January 15, 2011

Thanks sanabituranima. Don’t worry, you don’t have to be on facebook: we’re looking at possibilities for a specific campaign website — watch this space!

16. One Month Before Heartbreak: Who Cares? » Confessions of a Serial Insomniac - January 15, 2011

[...] proposed* that he ‘recruit’ 200 individuals that would be willing to give £5 each, resulting in [...]

17. The casual passer-by - January 15, 2011

Hi! You can count me in. Best, Gittele

18. John - January 15, 2011

Tried emailing you but it didn’t deliver Phil – I’m [email address removed: Ed] so please drop me a line and I’ll reply with the level of contribution I’ll make.

19. Lex - January 15, 2011

You lovely, lovely man, I’m welling up here xx

Phil Groom - January 16, 2011

Aww… *blush*

20. 5 Quid for Life? In Search of a Campaign Name « Phil's Boring Blog - January 16, 2011

[...] ON from my 200 People to Save Ali Quant post — to which the responses and enthusiasm have been amazing: thank you all — we’re now [...]

21. A Real Big Society? « Mental Nurse - January 17, 2011

[...] awful but justifiable worries regarding the probable loss of her benefits, and Phil Groom’s amazing response to same, I wanted to give people some idea of how Phil’s idea is [...]

22. Madness what madness? | EXTRANEA - January 17, 2011
23. Broken Britain, Broken People: Less than One Month Before Heartbreak « Phil's Boring Blog - January 21, 2011

[...] benefits system: The beginning of the end. Perhaps you’ve already read it after my earlier post: then go read it again; if you haven’t read it, prepare to be shaken; and when you’ve [...]

24. Sue Marsh - January 22, 2011

What a stunning thing to have done. You have totally restored my faith.
Ali knows why I can’t be “in” but like so many others, I’ve got a comfy sofa and I cook like an angel, lol
Thank you from all of us.

25. Welcome to 5 Quid for Life: A Mental Health Safety Net « 5 Quid for Life - January 27, 2011

[...] I came up with an alternative plan and launched an online campaign called ‘200 People to Save Ali Quant‘. My plan was simple: if I could find 200 people who would commit to giving £5 per month, [...]

26. 5 Quid For Life « www.mentallyinteresting.org.uk | The Secret Life of a Manic Depressive - January 27, 2011

[...] I came up with an alternative plan and launched an online campaign called ‘200 People to Save Ali Quant‘. My plan was simple: if I could find 200 people who would commit to giving £5 per month, that [...]

27. 5 Quid for Life: thankful, exhilarated and terrified all at once! « Phil's Boring Blog - February 1, 2011

[...] exhilarated and terrified all at once. Thankful to everyone who has risen to the challenge of my 200 People to Save Ali Quant post a couple of weeks ago, to everyone who voted in the poll to choose a name; exhilarated by the [...]

28. Will I be Forced Back to Work? » Confessions of a Serial Insomniac - February 3, 2011

[...] even more than ever with what she’d written.  I thought of the lovely Phil Groom and his admirable idea to save her, which has now morphed into the wonderful charity-t0-be, 5 Quid for Life.  (I am [...]

29. patientanonymous - February 23, 2011

Hi Phil,

When I found your blog and this post, I was just blown away by everyone banding together, the ultimate generosity and support. WOW.

It made me think: Just how many people out there would do that? I believe I had my answer before even thinking the thought. Not too many!

I’d love to contribute but unfortunately I’m in the same boat (well my own similar boat) compared to Ali’s. I’m in Canada and see my blog if you are curious about the similarities.

As for being in Canada, what bureaucratic nightmares! I too am dealing with trying to gain their paltry, financial supports, am not sure if I can work in the future (or even just what, if I can?)

I do not know how things work in England, but governments are governments. That being true, I trust frustration and confusion are the least of the problems one can feel!

So please know I am thinking of you Ali and I hope your situation improves, even if I can’t help financially. I sort of need to hang on to all I’ve got right now!

I’m sorry for that, and also sorry to all the other generous contributors. But again, I will be rooting for you from my little end of the blogging world. At least I know, to some degree, how you may feel? Does that help?

Hugs to all,
PA

Phil Groom - February 23, 2011

Hey PA – thank you! We’re all well aware that there are a lot of people who aren’t in a position to contribute financially and we fully understand that: no apologies needed on that score! In fact, it serves to underline even more the importance of setting up a safety net like this for those in situations like yours and Ali’s.

The fact that you’re willing to stand in solidarity with us from over there in Canada is fantastic, so thanks again — and anything you can do to help spread the word of our little venture, even better.

What I say is let those who can give money, give it; and those who can offer other gifts such as spreading the word via blogposts, facebook or twitter, give those. We’re weaving a safety net and it’s a net made up of people from all walks of life and from all sorts of situations; and now you’re part of it with us :)

Hugs right back! *sends strength and courage*

30. It isn’t suicide: it’s murder « 5 Quid for Life - June 1, 2011

[...] to help spread the word, thank you. The need for 5 Quid for Life remains as vital as when the 200 People to Save Ali Quant campaign was first launched, however — and what I said then remains true: these deaths are not [...]

31. It isn’t suicide: it’s murder « Phil's Boring Blog - June 2, 2011

[...] to help spread the word, thank you. The need for 5 Quid for Life remains as vital as when the 200 People to Save Ali Quant campaign was first launched, however — and what I said then remains true: these deaths are not [...]


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