Brighton Happy Champion Inspires Community

 

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The Independent Online

A quarter of the population will experience some kind of mental health problem in the course of a year, with mixed anxiety and depression being the most common. Rehanon Mackenzie developed depression in 2010, never expecting she would be named a happiness champion for Brighton five years later.

Through her recovery from depression, Rehanon began learning to sew on a six week course. This became a platform for her work with charities, including Macmillan Cancer Support sewing clothing. “It got to the point where I was being asked where my clothes came from, and when I explained that I made them everyone was shocked.”

This drove Rehanon to work on several projects afterwards- involving a dress made of cake for Macmillan, superhero outfits for breast cancer care and a jumpsuit for Cancer Research. 

“Sewing really helped my recovery and I got involved in the online sewing community through blogging. It has been so wonderful and has brought me a lot of happiness.” The blog has since evolved from just sewing to all about Rehanon’s life and experience with depression.

“For a long time I wanted to write about my mental health issues and recovery from my breakdown. I think it is really important because we need to eradicate the stigma around mental health.” 

Rehanon wrote an honest account about her experience during mental health awareness week this year which sparked a huge support base from those who read it. “So many people got in touch to tell me I had given them hope and encouraged them to get some help.”

“I am secretly coaching a lady who has been through similar issues but wants to take on a marathon, as she saw I had also run in races, besides sewing.  She wrote to me and said my achievements had been so inspiring to her that she wanted my help achieving her goal.”

Rehanon’s first race was the Hasting Half marathon for Macmillan Cancer Support in 2013 but raised her highest sum of £2000 when she ran the London marathon for Age UK the following year.

Raising money for charities Rehanon cares for became a significant part of recover after her breakdown. “It has also inspired a lot of people who know me in both real life and online to get out and have a go.” 

This work lead Rehanon to feature on the Brighton and Hove Happy List- part of a national network of lists that recognise people who bring smiles and cheer to their community every day.

But that’s not all, the ‘happy champion’ has now been a committee member in the Brighton Belles WI for two years, working to raise money for charity ‘Rise’ based in Sussex, and supporting various community projects- including Pride and the Brighton marathon.

“I really enjoy being a part of such a positive organisation.  We get the opportunity to regularly give back, which is so important to me. I have been able to give back and get involved in projects-inspiring people around me.” 

To read Rehanon’s blog and discover more about her charity work, click here.

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