Who are you?
I’m Matt Colley, although most people know me as Colo (rhymes with ‘follow’). I live in Norwich, Norfolk, and I’m a passionate advocate of reducing stigma and facilitating discussion around mental health.
What are you doing?
I’m attempting to cycle 5,000 miles, to raise money for five different Norfolk-based charities and organisations. All five have a connection to mental health, wellbeing and inclusivity.
When are you doing it?
I’m not setting myself a strict timeframe, although I believe it’s definitely achievable to complete the ride within 12 months, barring any major injuries or setbacks. My ‘stretch target’ would be to complete the ride by the end of Norwich City FC’s season (May 8, 2021).
Where are you doing it?
I’m planning to cycle through every village in Norfolk during my campaign. I may cycle outside Norfolk too, if suitable opportunities arise, but my primary objective is to get to know every corner of our beautiful county.
Why are you doing it?
Having suffered from depression and anxiety for more than 20 years, I see this as an opportunity to use exercise to improve my own mental and physical health, while raising money and awareness for some excellent causes. I think it’s vitally important that we all strive to make Norfolk a more inclusive, open and understanding place.
How can I get involved?
I’d love to speak with any charitable organisations based around mental health and/or wellbeing; I’m happy to do interviews, podcasts, video chats or social media content. I’m also happy to speak with anyone who might like to ride with me, or who’d like me to stop for a cuppa and a chat when I ride through their village.
Which charities / organisations will benefit?
Organisation: Norwich City Community Sports Foundation
Description: Norwich City Community Sports Foundation (CSF) helps thousands of people every year achieve their goals through sport, supporting some of the most disadvantaged, disabled and talented people across Norfolk.
Why I chose them: As a lifelong Norwich City FC fan, I have seen first-hand the excellent work that the CSF does in the community. I am also acutely aware of the power of sport and exercise in helping to combat mental health problems and aid wellbeing.
Organisation: Norfolk and Waveney Mind
Description: Norfolk and Waveney Mind is a local mental health charity that believes no one should have to face a mental health problem alone. It works to reduce the stigma associated with mental health, support people in their recovery and champion better services for all. It offers a wide range of services including 1:1 talking therapies, gardening projects, access to employment services, mental health training and education for businesses, schools and individuals, residential care and support programmes.
Why I chose them: Norfolk and Waveney Mind has supported me personally during periods of profound mental illness, and I have supported them for various charitable endeavours in the past.
Organisation: Norwich Soup Movement (NSM)
Description: NSM is a DIY non-profit organisation, which feeds the homeless and hungry multiple times a week, on the street. It serves hot meals, desserts, takeaway snacks and drinks, as well as supplying sleeping bags and other essentials. It also runs a non-referral vegan foodbank, one of the first in the country! This helps to keep low-income families and sanctioned individuals topped up with cupboard staples, fresh and frozen food, and household necessities. NSM is entirely publicly funded, and all donations go directly to the cause. NSM believes that everyone should be fed, looked after, and shown love and compassion.
Why I chose them: The founder is a close friend of mine, and I have watched the organisation grow from a single idea in her head to a huge undertaking with hundreds of volunteers. I feel strongly that the homeless should be encouraged and integrated back into society rather than shunned and dehumanised, and NSM does outstanding work to this end.
Organisation: The 12th Man
Description: The 12th Man is a campaign that encourages men to talk more about mental health, and to #BeThe12thMan for their friends, families and colleagues. The 12th Man works with a growing network of small business and community groups to provide mental health first aid training, in order to support them to keep conversations going in their place of work or with like-minded people who gather together out of a shared interest. These include barbershops, tattoo shops, pubs, taxis, cycling clubs and shops, scooter clubs, menswear stores and more. Those who become involved in the campaign and become ’12th Men’ are given the tools and confidence to talk about mental health and listen without judgement. They also learn to signpost people to professional support services in their area when they need it.
Why I chose them: I applied to undertake a mental health first aid course through The 12th Man just before lockdown, but it was cancelled due to coronavirus. I then discovered their cycling club during my previous charity cycle ride and was deeply impressed with the work they do and their open, welcoming nature.
Organisation: Sir Norman Lamb Mental Health and Wellbeing Fund
Description: Sir Norman, a well-known campaigner for mental wellbeing, established the Mental Health and Wellbeing Fund last year with his wife, Mary, following his decision to stand down after 18 years as the MP for North Norfolk. The Fund, hosted by Norfolk Community Foundation, aims to support community organisations in Norfolk working in mental health, learning disability and autism and focused on children, teenagers and young adults, who are already making an outstanding difference to young lives across Norfolk but urgently need funding to sustain and grow their work.
Why I chose them: In July 2020, I saw a newspaper article inviting people to group together to walk 500 miles during August to raise money for Sir Norman’s fund. I decided to have a crack at cycling 500 miles on my own, despite having no long-distance cycling experience and a poor level of fitness. After completing the ride (eventually riding 640 miles!) and raising more than £3,000, I decided to launch the ‘5000COLO’ campaign. Naturally, Sir Norman’s fund will be one of the beneficiaries.
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