The Blue Sunday tea party for M.E. came about after I was too unwell to celebrate my birthday in November 2012. As I was unable to mark the occasion in ways I had before, I asked my family and friends to join me for a virtual party, posting photos and videos of themselves raising a mug of tea and enjoying a slice of cake. It felt so wonderful to feel connected with my loved ones when I was unable to leave the house or have any visitors.
As M.E. Awareness month (May) was approaching in 2013, I started to feel that something was needed to commemorate it. It seemed wrong that there was nothing (accessible) that people with M.E. could get behind. So, I had a go at changing that.
As someone with M.E. I am so restricted by my ill health that the ‘conventional’ methods of fundraising, such a running a marathon, weren’t at all appropriate. The success of my virtual birthday party had me hoping I could do the same again as a fundraising event.
Life with M.E. can be incredibly isolating. Often, people with M.E. are too unwell to receive visitors. The communication, sensory overload, and exertion of even a five-minute visit will likely leave the sufferer worse off than the before. Many people with M.E. are housebound, often bedbound, and so making the journey to be with us here today is not possible.
Today there is also a Virtual Tea Party happening online for those who would otherwise be left out of yet another social event.
Throughout the day photos and videos from our tea party will be uploaded onto social media where those unable to join us in Real Life can feel a part of something.
They too are enjoying tea and cake but from the relative comfort of their own homes. They’re posting photos and chatting online with others doing the same.An extract from the leaflet that I put out at the Real Life tea party.
So the ‘Blue Sunday’ tea party was born. I invited friends and family to join me online again, only this time I was well enough to have a select few join me in Real Life, for afternoon tea. I asked for small donations of the price people would expect to pay for a pot of tea and a slice of cake in a coffee shop. I uploaded photos and videos of the little event being held at home so that even those stuck in bed on the other side of the world could join in online.
‘Blue Sunday’ has since influenced The ME Association’s annual fundraiser (Go Blue for M.E.) and I was incredibly moved to receive nominations for a JustGiving award and three WEGO Health Activist awards.
The tea party for M.E. is now celebrated internationally with other members of the M.E. community hosting their own tea parties at home.
The 2015 event raised a total of over £5700 which was split between three charities: The ME Association, Invest in ME, and ME Research UK. The 2020 event managed to better that incredible £5700 total by raising over £6000 for M.E. causes. To date it has raised more than £20,000 for The ME Association alone.
I am already starting to think ahead to 2021 and hope more people than ever before will decide to host their own Real Life tea parties, while I host the one online and in Real Life with my own family and friends. More information on how to host your own ‘Blue Sunday’ tea party for M.E. will be available soon.
Related link What have tea and cake got to do with M.E?