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Health

Captain Tom to Publish 2 Books to Fundraise for New Charity Tackling Loneliness and Bereavement

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The UN’s Global Goal 3 focuses on good health and wellbeing, including a promoting positive mental health outcomes. But as the COVID-19 pandemic has forced many into isolation, mental health services, including those that support people grieving the loss of loved ones, have been struggling to cope. Take action here to join the movement for global health.

Colonel Tom Moore — affectionately known as Captain Tom to his legion of fans across Britain — announced on Thursday that he will release two books about his life to fundraise for his new charity.

The 100-year-old World War Two veteran will reportedly soon launch the Captain Tom Foundation to help combat loneliness, support hospices, and help those facing bereavement.

Moore has become something of a national hero in the UK during the coronavirus pandemic, after raising almost £33 million for NHS Charities by walking laps of his garden as he approached his 100th birthday.

Initially, he wanted to raise £1,000 by walking 100 laps. But after inspiring donations exceeding £70,000 within 24 hours, he just kept going — moving other centenarians to quite literally follow in his footsteps.

But now, his focus has expanded to include three significant societal issues — heightened in Britain as a result of COVID-19 — that require urgent support: loneliness, hospices, and bereavement.

A study from the Mental Health Foundation published on May 4 found that 24% of adults and 44% of young people aged 18-24 in the UK experienced loneliness throughout March and April.

But while isolation increases, support systems have struggled to cope with demand, especially for young people. A survey from mental health charity YoungMinds found that one in four under-18s with mental health problems have found their access to support has become limited as a result of the disruption caused by the pandemic. It’s prompted concern about the long-term ramifications of the crisis.

“While the initial priority must be to prevent loss of life, we fear that we may be living with the mental health impacts of the coronavirus situation for many years to come,” said Dr. Antonis Kousoulis, director of the Mental Health Foundation. “This is especially true of vulnerable groups and it is critical that governments and others are mindful of this in developing policy as we go forward.”

Related Stories May 22, 2020 100-Year-Old Man Raises £186,000 to Fight COVID-19 by Walking Laps in His Garden During Ramadan

At the same time, ITV News reported on April 29 that hospices in Britain are now dealing with 24,000 end-of-life care cases a day — triple the number seen in the same period last year. But the sector has struggled to access affordable personal protective equipment (PPE), reportedly being charged 26 times more for surgical masks than NHS suppliers.

Tracey Bleakley, CEO of Hospice UK, warned on April 29 that hospices were due to run out of PPE “within days”. A meeting with the Department of Health soon followed, and the government has been delivering weekly supplies of PPE to all hospices in England since May 8.

But as Britain overtook Italy as the country with the highest COVID-19 death toll in Europe on May 5, pressure is unlikely to let up: an estimated 450,000 people have been grieving the loss of loved ones since lockdown began in the UK.

And yet hospices and bereavement services like Marie Curie have seen a huge drop in their usual donations. The government support is not enough to sustain those services, with numerous reports warning that closures remain a real risk.

It illustrates the importance of funding for social services that fight loneliness and support bereaved families at a local level. The funds raised by Moore’s autobiography may very well help plug that gap — but public investment during the pandemic and well beyond it is vital.

Moore’s autobiography, called Tomorrow Will Be A Good Day, will be published on Sept. 17. It will recall his experiences fighting in Burma (Myanmar) during the war, competitive motorbike racing, adventures in the Himalayas and Everest, and his NHS fundraising efforts.

Meanwhile, a fully illustrated children’s book, published on Oct. 1 by Puffin, will further tell the story of his life. It will be about “adventure, helping people, and never giving up”, according to his website.

“I've always been an optimistic person and looked on the bright side,” Moore told Piers Morgan on Good Morning Britain on Thursday. “That's what I'd like to share — look on the bright side and things will get better always.”

“I am so looking forward to sharing my autobiography with you which will help launch my new foundation,” he added. “I'd better get writing!”