Better Together September is a month-long community fundraising campaign dedicated to raising awareness about mental health. September has been, and will continue to be filled with more than 35 events to help inspire and empower anyone and everyone to contribute to the cause. We sat down with creator Scarlet Hoy to discuss this expansive month-long event.
What is Better Together September and how did the idea for it come about?
If you haven’t heard of, or don’t know about Lifeline – they are a free and confidential crisis and support helpline that operates from 10am to 10pm, 365 days a year. Their trained volunteers help countless people in crisis in China get much needed access to English speaking resources in their area. They and the work they do is incredible.
To support Lifeline, I am organizing a campaign for the month of September called The Better Together Campaign. It all started with my Boobs&Brains Lady Quiz, which was the first fundraiser I did for Lifeline back in March, and had 45 women sign up overnight and raised RMB4,000.
Boobs&Brains is about gathering the diverse women of Shanghai to learn and get inspired by women of past and present. We showcase the incredible women owned businesses here in Shanghai who donate raffle prizes so we can raise funds that get donated directly to Lifeline.
After the success of the second Boobs&Brains in June – with over 75 women at Egg – I was gearing up for the third at Cotton’s for September, when I thought, “Well, I should make it a fundraiser too!”
Seeing how I was doing two fundraisers, the idea to reach out to the community to get more people involved in helping create a mega month came. So, I reached out to Lifeline, and they were on board.
We called on the community for help in whatever ways they could – their time, organizational skills, talents, resources, venues, contacts, prizes, or funds if they have it – to help plan and host as many events as possible throughout September.
We didn’t think the community would respond in such numbers and to date we have 36 official Better Together campaign events throughout the month. It’s been an amazing achievement of community coming together for a common goal.
I’m blown away by people’s generosity and creativity in making such an amazing month. All of the events are hosted at sponsored venues, with volunteer organizers and facilitators. Nothing is too big or small to contribute in making a huge impact for Lifeline.
I’m hoping Better Together will show anyone and everyone that there are so many different ways in being charitable and giving back to the community or helping raise awareness for something you are passionate about.
What kinds of events can people expect to see during Better Together September? And which events are you most excited about?
There is something for everyone! We’ve had fitness events, a vegan bake-off, mental health movie nights, wellness workshops, a clothing swap, a LeanIn Wellness Festival and a jewelry and aroma therapy workshop too.
Last weekend we had the Boobs&Brains Quiz at Cottons, which had over 100 women and raised RMB12,700, thanks to our generous sponsors and participants. Last Friday – Suicide Prevention Day - the Chambers for Charity Event at Shangri-La Pudong raised a whopping RMB32,780!
Coming up – I’m super excited about All Hands on Deck for Lifeline which is this upcoming Saturday, September 18. We will be cruising down the Bund taking in the famous skyline on a boat, plus three hours of freeflow and nibbles with a live band, DJ and burlesque with incredible raffle prizes, all run and hosted by volunteers.
Scan the QR on the poster below to get tickets to All Hands on Deck for Lifeline:
I’m also excited about the KTV for a Cause, Invest in Yourself workshop, Earnshaw Books Talks and the comedy and improv nights. Of course Unravel too, one of my favorite Shanghai events!
How will Better Together September give back to the community through Lifeline?
We’re only halfway through the month, and we have already raised more than RMB80,000. This will go towards much needed outreach work to help Lifeline with the increasing volume of calls they are experiencing from those in crisis.
It will allow Lifeline to continue their work, expand their available hours for calls, improve marketing and training efforts, continue to develop the outreach program to cities beyond Shanghai and reach a diverse group of people to let them know about this vital service in the community whilst raising awareness for mental health.
Hopefully, Better Together will also inspire others to get involved, learn to have important conversations around mental health and see that they can do small things to find different ways to contribute creatively.
How can people sign up to attend events, volunteer at events, or donate their time, skills, talents, resources, venues and/or contacts to the cause?
As we are already halfway through the month, the best way to get involved is to come to the events and bring friends. Share your experiences, the calendar and the event flyers also helps too. Mark your calendar for this Saturday for All Hands on Deck for Lifeline!
We are still looking for donated books and for “Better Together” story submissions for the next Unravel Storytelling show on September 30. Make sure to have and share Lifeline’s contact card. You never know when somebody you care about might need it.
Who else is involved in organizing Better Together September?
Denis Vaughan – Outreach Manager for Lifeline; RVenus Lai – Logistics Manager for Better Together September; Adrian Holser – Lifeline R U OK? Program Coordinator; and Sophie Norris – Community Supporter and Invest in Yourself Event Organizer.
How can people learn more about Better Together September?
The WeChat mini program was created by volunteers and is a helpful resource that includes the entire schedule, flyers, sign-ups and contact info for all events. It’s user friendly and contains loads of info, so check it out and sign up for events by scanning the QR code below:
And a big thank you to all Better Together September sponsors:
[All images courtesy of Lifeline and Better Together September]