Tuesday I wrote my last post. I woke up to the news that missing Chef Kevin Boyle’s body had been found in a garden in south London, it had been there for sometime following his death at his own hand. As I said at the time I didn’t know Kevin or work with him but his story saddened me greatly. I had the day off, a rare and precious thing these days, so some work on the new spring menum an afternoon shopping with my girlfriend and a relaxing evening at home were on the cards.
The thing is I couldn’t shake the news about Kevin, that anyone should feel they could not turn anywhere for help and had no choice but to end their life is in itself tragic, the fact that his body lay undiscovered until many months later is truly heartbreaking. Through out the day my thoughts kept returning to Kevin and that evening when I returned home I decided to write a blog post on it. I just wanted to take what was in my head and commit it to paper (or in this case a screen). I posted it, I tweeted it and then it just sort of took on a life of it’s own. I was inundated with retweets and comments on Twitter, depression and suicide have touched so many people’s lives and people were glad that someone was willing to highlight it. I thought maybe something positive could come from this terribly sad end to a once bright and promising life.
From the first mention of this idea on Twitter there have been offers of help forthcoming. Chef’s have responded, in most cases simply with the words “I’m in”. Chef’s give their time to help any number of worthy causes, given the chance to help with a problem that exists within their own industry they haven’t hesitated. Cheffing is a tough job, we know that and we accept and in a way it’s what drives us. However we can not ignore that the stresses and the pressure it places on those who wish to succeed and reach the top.
Yesterday I met with Jane Powell the director of CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably), a charity who work exclusively with men who are suffering from depression. Given that suicide is the number one cause of death amongst young men in this country there is very little help available for men to prevent them taking this drastic step. She told me about the work they do and the struggles they face to provide a desperately needed place for men to turn to. They operate on a very small budget, receiving some funding from The Lottery and Comic Relief to help them deal with callers under 25 but receive no funding what so ever that is earmarked to help men over 25, ironically had Kevin called CALM they would have had to fund the cost of handling the call from private charitable donations. Even then they can only afford to keep their phone lines and text support service open till midnight.
On the 30th of April we are going to hold a Chefs for CALM dinner in central London. Plans are still at a very early stage but we hope to provide 200 guests with the chance to enjoy an amazing meal cooked by the best chefs in the country and hopefully raise a lot of money for a cause that so desperately needs it.
We want to raise the money needed to extend the helpline and text service till 3am, given the hours that chefs work having those extra 3hours could make a very big difference to someone seeking help. We also want to work with CALM to help their counsellors better understand the unique stresses faced by chefs.
More than anything by having the very chefs that these young guys aspire to be cooking at the dinner and backing this cause we want young chefs to know that it is ok to admit you need help and that there is somewhere they can turn for help from someone who is familiar with what they are going through.
If you can help in any way then please email us at CalmDinner@Gmail.com
Please put the type of help you can offer in the subject line (e.g. Chef, Front of House, Supplier, Sponsor etc) and John Comyn (@CityJohn on Twitter) who is organising the logistics will be in touch.