Ahead of World Mental Health Day and World Homeless Day on Sunday, Britain’s most celebrated charity fundraiser, SpeedoMick, has opened up about his own battles with mental health issues, addiction and homelessness.
The man who never gets cold is back on the road again on his 2,000 mile ‘Giving Back Tour’.
Through the SpeedoMick Foundation, Mick is setting out to raise money for local charities who focus on relieving poverty, helping those with mental health issues and providing support and education for young people with disadvantaged backgrounds.
He says: “I was in a horrible place for so many years, and it was the decisions I made that took me there.
“My lowest points were the times I tried to take my own life. Being an alcoholic or a drug addict is a lingering, painful death. You lose all your friends and family because you are too painful to be around. I don’t know how I got so lost.
“I wanted to stop drinking for years, but I didn’t have the answers. I never blamed the drink, because deep down, I knew the problem was me – but I would sooner run away from all my problems before I pointed the finger at myself.”
The SpeedoMick Foundation seeks to help people talk in confidence about their doubts and fears. Through compassion and understanding, the charity sets out to make a positive impact on young people, families, individuals and communities.
“Looking back, the first signs of my struggles began when I was very young. I’d had a difficult childhood and it continued into adulthood. I went to London and ended up sleeping in hostels or on the streets. This is why raising money for mental health issues, poverty and young people is so close to my heart.”
In his trusty Speedos, Mick is currently halfway through his ‘Giving Back Tour’; a six-month trek around the UK and Ireland, raising funds for his Foundation and finding charities to donate up to £250,000 along the way, so that he can ‘give back’ to the people and the communities who have supported him in the past.
Having commenced in Stornoway in the Western Isles in May, he has already travelled through Edinburgh and Glasgow, before heading to Belfast and Dublin, where he crossed back over to North Wales ahead of journeying to Cardiff and then Cornwall.
The last leg of the tour is set to continue through all of England’s major cities, before making its way to Manchester and finally finishing in Liverpool this December.
“The Covid-19 pandemic has placed a huge strain on the finances of so many charities. It has also shone a light on how difficult life can be for a lot of young people in the country – whether it be depression, suicide, addiction, poverty or a general lack of opportunity. I’ll do anything I can to help.”
Lockdown was a particular struggle for Mick. Following the success of his first 1,000 mile walk – which ended in February 2020, spanned across 30 towns and raised over £500,000 in funds – he found restrictions nearly impossible to handle.
“Even after 19 years of recovery, I’d never experienced being so low. It got so bad that I didn’t even want to be here any more. You want to be free from what you’re going through, because it’s that bad. It’s that dark, you start believing that you’re better off not being here.”
Mick hopes that sharing his story will motivate others to seek the help they need. He also wants to encourage people to ask what they can do to help someone who might be struggling.
“I thought that I was going to figure it out myself. And this is the problem, because you can’t think your way out of mental health. You’ve got to ask for help. Eventually, I spoke to my brother and I would say he saved my life.
“You’ll hear family members and friends turn round and go, ‘I’d only seen him on Tuesday, and he was fine.’ He was laughing and smiling, he was joking, but he wasn’t ‘fine’.
“You’ve got to ask, is there anything I can do? Don’t let it go.”
Mick’s message to anyone who is suffering is to talk, reach out, ask for help. Don’t suffer alone.
For more information, or to follow the ‘Giving Back Tour’, please visit:
You can also donate here: https://www.gofundme.com/f/speedomick