I’ve never been one for sitting back and aggressively waiting for the phone to ring. When I was made redundant from “big” journalism at the end of 2009, I was straight on the laptop to email the people at British Naturism, who had asked six months previously if I would be interested in editing the magazine.
Four years later, when that era of my life all fell apart after my stroke, I quickly began to wonder what I could do to publicise the struggles of my fellow stroke-survivors and make the world more aware of stroke. So I contacted the Stroke Association and asked to be put on their list of media volunteers, those survivors who will speak to the press/TV/radio/social media and tell their story. I was keen to do this because I’d seen it from the other side; I’d seen how difficult it is for journalists to find people willing to go in front of the cameras or on the radio, or have their experiences in the written press.
I also contacted Headway, the charity for survivors of all traumatic brain injury. Through the local group, I got involved in what you could call ‘the politics of stroke awareness.” In other words, meeting with NHS bodies and managers to fight the cause of stroke-survivors and ensure our voice is heard above all the other people fighting for their share of ever-shrinking resources.
With that in mind, I’ve just put my name forward to my local Healthwatch group to train as one of the 250 ambassadors who work voluntarily to ‘help increase public and staff engagement and help to find patient representatives who can support the detailed planning that is going on” as the jargon puts it. I'm doing my training next month.
And I contacted Different Strokes, the charity for which I raised a four-figure sum by taking part in the BH5k nude run at the Naturist Foundation in September 2015.
I’ve never been backwards in coming forwards, then; and this week has seen two unexpected opportunities present themselves to continue to raise my profile, while doing good for the joint causes of stroke-survivors and naturism. Quite by accident, I discovered a Belgian-run naturist website called nakedwanderings.com. I investigated a little further and discovered they were looking for people willing to tell their story for a series of interviews entitled ‘The Naturist Talks.’
I fired off a quick email offering my services, they replied within days and the interview will go on the website tomorrow (Thursday January 12).
Then, last Friday, I got a Facebook message from Stephane Deschenes, the owner of the Bare Oaks Family Naturist Park in Ontario, Canada and the man behind the successful Naturist Living Show podcast. I’d sent Stephane a friend-request a while ago. We had a lengthy conversation during which Stephane raised the idea of me doing some interviews for the Naturist Living Show; firstly, to be another pair of hands and another voice but also to provide a British perspective to what is otherwise an all-North American production.
Then, today, another opportunity. A chance Facebook conversation led to a discussion with a lady who runs a podcast which has more than 12,000 downloads per month (considerably more of an audience than this blog, then....). She already knew a little about me via social media but wanted to know the full story and if all goes well, she'll interview me in a few weeks.
As networking maestro Stefan Thomas often says, it's your responsibility to make sure people know you're there (Try writing that when one of your biggest stroke-related issues is differentiating between now/know, your/you're and their/there, lol). It's something I passionately believe in, it's why I link this blog to a string of Facebook groups, LinkedIn and Twitter. I know it's a slow burn but it'll never set light at all if you don't light the match. I hope that's what I've done this week.