The most serious party. In the world.


(Above) Vito Neo Reargo – Secret Garden Party.

It’s a interesting thing, an oxymoron. “Alone together”, “Assistant Supervisor” and, as a keen wordsmith, one of my personal favourites is “distinctly average”.

But what about a “serious party”? 

This is the oxymoron that belongs to the Secret Garden Party. SGP is a colourful, frivolous, fancy-dress laden and glitter-garnered festival of music and magic that takes place every year in some fields in Cambridgeshire. Not at all serious, you might think.

I have just come back from SGP, having been invited to handle the social media for its official charity, CALM.

CALM stands for the Campaign Against Living Miserably and is a male suicide prevention charity.

Did you know that 12 men every single day in the UK take their own life? And suicide is the biggest killer of British men under 50. Pretty serious stuff. Bit of an oxymoron to have it at such a light-hearted environment, surely?

But the charity itself is a bit of an oxymoron, you see. As the name clearly states, they stand against living miserably. More than that, they realise that a doom & gloom approach to the issue is not an effective way to engage people on the subject.

Rachel Clare, Assistant Director of CALM, often says: “Nothing clears a room quicker than the word ‘suicide’.” Good point. 

The most effective way to communicate, as we know, is to speak the language your audience uses. If you’re talking to a boardroom of high powered executives, you mightn’t want to throw around too many Fs or slip into Made In Chelsea abbreviations (MIC abbrevs). And in this country, in our society, if you’re trying to get the attention of men, there’s no point harping on about a shoulder to cry on.

Bush said to “fight terror with terror”. Well, perhaps we should fight stigma with humour, fun and banter. It’s about normalising the conversation and being in the place where you’re needed.

This is exactly why CALM is the official charity of SGP. Many men have died and many more people are bereaved, including the Head Gardener Freddie Fellowes and his team. 

So, in actual fact, it makes perfect sense to have “This is a serious party” as the strapline of SGP, emblazened across every wristband. Not only because a fellow reveller, Vito Neo Reargo – a veteran Secret Gardener – was lost in 2013 to suicide, but also because it was what he’d been saying all along.

Jo Furnival is Senior Account Manager at All about the Idea and advises CALM on aspects of their communications. As well as capturing content and tweeting live from this year’s Secret Garden Party, Jo works hard to raise awareness of the charity and the issue of male suicide via traditional UK media. To find out more, contact Jo on Twitter @jojofurnival.


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