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Scottish Rowing Cause of the Month

Posted: 6 May 2021

Over the last 14 months during the COVID-19 Pandemic, our clubs have pulled together as a community like never before, overcoming obstacles,hurdles and setbacks time after time.In spite of their own challenges, many clubs have still recognised the challenges faced by people out with their own membership and taken action.

At Scottish Rowing we want to acknowledge the amazing efforts clubs put in to help others in their communities and beyond, and so we are launching the ‘Scottish Rowing Cause of the Month’ initiative to highlight some of the fantastic projects that often go unseen in our community. We would like to encourage clubs to send in their stories so we can help them get their message out.

This month for our first ‘Cause’ we are congratulating Dundee University Boat Club for mental health initiative and fundraising efforts in support of a local youth mental health charity Feeling Strong.

Dundee University Boat Club (DUBC) recently created a new committee role of Welfare Office to support the wellbeing of their members. Thomas Nelson, who holds a Mental Health First Aid Level 2, was appointed to the role in December 2020. Thomas’s initial aim was to raise awareness and improve the understanding of mental health within the club and to get members to talk about their own experiences.  

Thomas started by organising a series of 10 social media posts titled “Winter Wellbeing”, which highlighted various aspects of mental health and wellbeing.  Members of DUBC then wrote short articles about themselves, their own welfare and wellbeing and mental health journey on the club website.  This helped shape the club’s Wellness Action Plan, which details how the club responds to someone in need of support.  The inspiration for what turned out to be the ‘What’s Rowing on in your Head’ series came from the rowing community, with Strathclyde University Boat Club coining the phrase on a social media post on 10th October 2018.

Additionally, DUBC organised a fundraiser where members ran, cycled or rowed various distances over a week to raise money for Feeling Strong - this centred on collecting as many pledges to cover 18km's in recognition of the 18 lives lost to suicide every day (as per the 2019 Office for National Statistics report).  DUBC has been supporting Feeling Strong, a youth mental health charity based in Dundee, for over three years. Feeling Strong’s aim is to support young people in Dundee who have experienced a mental health or wellbeing challenge to reach their full potential. They deliver projects, services and campaigns in the community to tackle stigma, build confidence, develop resources, create networks and support the positive recovery journey of our young people.

Matt Simpson, President of Dundee University Boat Club, said;

"This has been our 3rd club-wide fundraiser in the past year which our members have taken on despite the COVID-19 restrictions.  Thanks to our members and fundraiser leads, it's been our most successful one yet.  I'm extremely proud of everyone from the club who took the challenge on amid their preparations for their exams.  Thanks to our members and those who have donated to our fundraiser, we've managed to raise over £1,000 so far!"

Feeling Strong founder, Brook Marshall (they/them), added:

"We'd like to sincerely thank the Boat Club for all of their hard work in fundraising for us over the last few years, and buying into our vision whilst we were still a new, developing charity. Importantly, however, this fundraising activity has also raised awareness which is absolutely crucial in changing hearts and minds about the realities of mental health. Knowing and understanding what's on offer in your community is one of the best ways to support those who might confide in you."

"Feeling Strong has been working hard to ensure that what's on offer in our communities, beyond the projects and services we deliver, reflects the need and experiences of young people in Dundee. We plan to continue this work, being involved at the top level, to continue to develop and grow this work for the benefit of not just young people in Dundee, but across the region."

Alongside the financial success, Sir Steve Redgrave picked up the club’s efforts on Twitter and Olympian James Ford also shared links to the articles on his Facebook page.  These articles have been read across the world from USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand to Hong Kong throughout the series.

To find out more visit https://bit.ly/3ufWuo9 and to donate to the fundraiser, please visit https://bit.ly/3emlMLY.For more information on the charity, visit https://www.feelingstrong.co.uk.

If your club is planning a fundraiser or campaign which you would like Scottish Rowing to highlight as a Cause of the Month, please contact Scottish Rowing Club Support Manager Erin Wyness at erin.wyness@scottish-rowing.org.uk.