Last October I discovered I had recently landed my dream job as a senior manager for a charity developing programmes to support those suffering the impacts of austerity and poverty in the UK and was training for the Muddy Mo 10k run for charity. Overnight, I lost the ability to walk or balance due to viral labrynthitis. Over the months since, I have learned to read, stand and walk all over again. I used my blog Scriptonite Daily to continue to make a difference while I recuperated. In that time, the blog has reached almost a million people. I feel like losing the use of my legs enabled me to find my voice. I need your help to continue writing the blog full time, now that I have recovered.
The Road to Scriptonite
I have written the Scriptonite Daily blog for almost three years now. It started as a hobby, a way to think through some big issues about social, economic and environmental justice in the UK and worldwide. I didn’t take it terribly seriously and it was fairly chatty and contemplative in style.
When I became a part of the Occupy Movement, I started writing more earnestly in the Voices From the Occupation series – writing about the issues that drew people into the movement, and giving people a snapshot of the daily life on camp. The blog became a popular place for people to go in order to find out what was really happening, in the absence of significant and accurate mainstream media coverage. I also started to write comment pieces for openDemocracy.
After the Occupy camp was evicted, I returned to my daily life as a freelance project manager running projects in the public sector. I ran the Our Olympics campaign to raise public awareness about the corruption behind the London 2012 Games. I changed my career, moving into the Charities sector, where I felt my working day could be spent more productively and more consistent with my world view. I had been running 3 miles every other day and a 10k at the weekend and was in the best shape of my adult life.
Then everything changed. I got sick. Overnight, I was no longer able to distinguish up from down, to stand up or to walk unaided. I suffered vertigo attacks which reduced me to tears and nausea, as the world span around and my eyes wouldn’t focus to enable me to read or write. I felt like someone had stolen my life from under me. Only six weeks into my new job, I was unable to attend. As the weeks rolled by and I my condition didn’t improve, my employer needed to let me go. They did this in a compassionate and considered way which made the thing less painful than it could have been. But it still hurt.
As a means of improving my ability to read and perform cognitive tasks, I began writing my blog again.
Scriptonite Gets Noticed
Prior to January this year, my blog had 60 email subscribers and had been read by around 80,000 people across the world. At that time, I was pleased with this.
I moved the blog to a new site, and started properly researching my articles, providing as rigorous a level of journalism to each piece as I was capable. I sought to address four key issues.
- The under reporting and mis-reporting of significant stories by large portions of the mainstream media
- The failure of mainstream news media to properly contextualise the stories they were telling.
- The blogs I read and loved did not have the deep level of research and referencing of information to credible sources to fully support their arguments.
- There was not often a call for action in the news or blogs, or a route to do something about a story I would feel passionate enough to act upon.
In January, the blog reached 15,000 people. In March, it reached nearly 53,000 people. In April, it reached more than 206,000 people. In May, it topped 260,000 people. The site now has almost 3,500 email subscribers and an active Facebook community of just under 2,000.
The blog has been read and shared by musician and activist Billy Bragg, human rights campaigner Bianca Jagger, comedian Mitch Benn, comedian and activist Josie Long, Russell Brand and a host of others.
It has been an incredible experience, to find my voice and finally have the opportunity to share it with so many others. Monday to Friday every week I write at least one article a day, of around 1500-2000 words really opening up an issue. I have covered economic issues such as LIBOR, PFI, and Banking Reform; Social issues such as the impacts of ideological austerity and growing inequalities; Environmental Issues such as the rise of palm oil, fracking and Big Oil.
Despite the significant traffic to the site, I have never run ads or put up a pay wall as I have been concerned about the ethical issues around both. I ask people to donate to the blog each Friday, and have received between £5 and £110 every week.
But the time has come where I need to earn enough money to continue to write the blog, and pay my bills.
Here’s the Request
So, I had this crazy idea. Why not simply ask people who can and want to support the continuance of Scriptonite Daily to sponsor me to be their own citizen journalist? If each person who visited the blog last month had left just 1 penny, then I would have earned £2,606 last month and had more than enough to continue to write.
I am asking for £25,000, the average UK wage after tax and other deductions, to enable me to continue to write full time on the issues that matter to us all for the next year. I do not feel entitled to this money, or ask for it lightly; but I do have something to offer and if you value it too I ask you to support me to in continuing to give it.
Over the year, I will write a blog each day of the working week and produce a film on the Occupation of Palestine. I will be able to travel in order to cover protests, direct actions, and events across the UK and the world. I will be able to give a voice to the people and issues that are woefully silenced for so much of the time.
If 25,000 people (that is fewer people than read the blog each week) give just £1 – the project will be a success. So I ask you reading this now to give what you want to, and what you can, to keep my voice out there. If the project is unsuccessful, I’ll return to work and write when I can. Your donation, be it £1 or £1000 will help keep the Scriptonite Daily blog alive.
Please help me to turn my worst nightmare into a dream come true, and sponsor me to become your own citizen journalist.
You can make your donation here.