Tag Archives: charity

Status update on The Happiness Project London


Its the second month of The Happiness Project London and a time for reflection.

I’m getting great feedback from friends about the project – some people like the “making the most of London” aspect and some are inspired by the charitable side.  Personally, I want to keep a balance between the two – it would be disingenous of me to suggest that I want to sacrifice all my time for worthy purposes, but I do think it is possible to fit some volunteering/donation into our busy lives and that we would all feel better doing so. Of course some people might think this is really phony (I’m reading The Catcher in the Rye and realise I’m certainly not the impoverished nun type) but I’m sticking with it.

To this end, El Grumpo and I had our “bad jumpers” party this weekend where we collected clothes and toiletries for St Mungos . We had some fantastic knitwear on show and I was touched at how much stuff people had collected and brought – whole bags of toiletries, bin bags of clothes. St Mungos were really pleased and all it took was for us to suggest the idea and then drive to the emergency shelter to drop it off. Next year, I’m going to do a similar collection for the Refugee Council.

On the social side, it has definitely made life a bit more exciting. Every time I go out for dinner, I suggest a new restaurant or bar, and friends have been getting in on the act too – I’ve been invited to exhibitions, films and restaurants that I hadn’t even heard of. 

For the future, the restaurants I’m keen to try are Polpo and Hix in Soho;  Boundary, Bistroteque and Gavin La Chapelle in East London; Avalon in Clapham South; The Draft House  in Clapham Junction; and of  course if my wallet allows…. The Fat Duck!   I also want to see Midsummer at the Soho Theatre; some shakespeare at the Globe Theatre; the Entroducing DJ Shadow session at Plan B, some gigs at Brixton Accademy and the Shepherd’s Bush Empire; try some music festivals; go to some comedy – I’d like to see Reginald D Hunter and Simon Amstell.   Weekends away may take me to Vienna, the Alps, New York and the Highlands (random).

Only downside is I feel I can’t go to somewhere like Strada anymore and have also dragged my tired self to nights out when I’d rather be sitting at home watching True Blood.  I also find I simply don’t have time to do everything I want to, but I have high hopes for having it all in 2010.  I sadly cancelled my subscription to Time Out because it was stressing me out rather than inspiring me – I’ve found its been better to narrow down what I enjoy and stick to that rather than trying everything.  Although I’m open to trying any new things people suggest.  And certainly the active exercise thing has gone totally out the window – its been quite nice… oops…

Am I happier for it?  On the social side, I think I’ve seen more of my friends than normal, met some cool new people, and widened my cultural horizons.  On the charitable side, I feel really good about helping St Mungos and want to make regular donations and volunteering part of my life in London. 

So far, so happy.  I have some great ideas about things to do next year – including interviews with some inspirational Londoners on making the most of it – so please keep reading!

“Bad Jumper” Christmas party to help St Mungo’s “Winter Warmer” campaign

As I suspected, The Happiness Project London has become rather one-sided.  Its been far easier to go out to nice restaurants than do anything for charity.  Life is so busy in London that its been hard to find time, but I’ve also been putting it off in favour of nights out suggested by friends.  However, the second and critically important premise of The Happiness Project London is that life becomes empty when we only live for ourselves, so I’ve wanted to kick start the charitable side sooner rather than later.

So I was inspired by St Mungo’s “Winter Warmer” campaign which aims to raise funds for the homeless especially at this time of year, by encouraging people to hold fundraising events around the theme of “keeping warm”.   This is something close to my heart as I’ve always found Christmas to be a rather melancholic time and I also have personal experience of how homeless hostels have helped people close to me, so I decided to do what I could to help.

Adapting that theme somewhat, The Grump (our new name for “my boyfriend” until we come up with something better) and I have decided to hold a “bad jumpers” Christmas party for all our friends.   I found some inspiration below – “the Giles” and “his and hers” being particular favourites.  

As well as having the final catch up before we all part ways for family Christmases – and drinking our body weight in mulled wine – I’m asking my friends to donate money to the St Mungo’s campaign and also to bring along any spare blankets, toiletries and clothing, which The Grump and I will take to our nearest emergency shelter in Southwark the day after, notwithstanding fuzzy heads. 

I can’t think of anything better in London than spending an evening with your closest friends all dressed in terrible jumpers, knowing that you’re doing what you can for someone else, and you might just make another person’s day.  If you can, I’d encourage you to do the same – contact St Mungo’s through the links page to set up your own event. 

UPDATE: We called the St Mungos emergency shelter in Southwark and the local shelter in Battersea and both were full up with clothes and couldn’t store any more. BUT they were very keen for toiletries. So, we dropped off the toiletries at the Southwark shelter and are due to deliver the clothes to the Christian Mission shelter in Southwark (as suggested by the St Mungos emergency shelter). We also donated money to St Mungos. So, its a good idea to ring up shelters first to check if they can store/circulate your items before you rock up.