I’d like to dedicate my first blog as LandAid’s CEO to a young man. I don’t know his name. But single handedly he affected the lives of hundreds and possibly thousands of commuters heading to London from Cambridge (where I live) and all points north.
And how did he achieve this?
He tried to take his life by jumping from the Hills Road bridge on to the down line at 7.52 on Monday 2nd February 2015.
It was my first day on the job. New shirt, new suit even and bright shiny cycle jacket courtesy of my former boss at VoiceAbility. Cambridge Station was heaving, but then it always is on a Monday morning. But that day, along with the usual grey legions of the Suited’n’Booted, were police, ambulance crews, paramedics, firefighters… Whispers and rumours spread of a fatality, a body on the line, but none of us knew for certain. The only sure thing was my planned early start, and 10am meeting with the new team at LandAid wasn’t going to happen.
Sitting in a coffee shop waiting for the emergency services to do what they do, and watching Twitter tease out the news, I couldn’t help reflecting on beginnings and endings.
While I had arrived that morning full of hope and excitement, someone (I now know a young man in his 20s) had arrived in a very different state of mind. While I had arrived ready to begin the next stage of my life journey, he had arrived to do the very opposite.
The 2 hour delay was an inconvenience. For me and probably for most if not all of those other commuters. Some will have ranted and railed, cursing the ‘jumper’ for his thoughtlessness – meetings missed! Deals lost!
But I hope at least some of my co-commuters used that short period of time to reflect on what had brought that young man to that bridge, on that bitterly cold morning. What sadness? What despair? What hopelessness?
Most charities exist to change for the better the lives of some of our country’s and the world’s most disadvantaged people (and No, I’m not including the unbelievably wealthy donkey charities!). LandAid (my new charity) does this by raising funds from the property industry and channelling them to organisations and groups working with some of the most disadvantaged children and young people. Their generosity and enthusiasm (and increasingly their pro bono support) helps improve the physical fabric of youth clubs, hostels, shelters, training centres and refuges, or build new facilities. But it does more than that too – it reminds people who can often feel forgotten and ignored that they are thought about, they are cared for, and there can be hope.
The young man survived and is in hospital but with life-threatening injuries. Hope he pulls through. Hope he gets support.
Paul Morrish is Chief Executive of LandAid. Follow him on Twitter or connect on LinkedIn.