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From R.E.D to MBE.

Behind RED January, every creative step of the way.

Charlie Loft, Yolk Creative London Ltd.

Co-Founder & Creative Director

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Hannah Beecham received an MBE in the honours list this year, and it is truly deserved. She had an idea back in 2015 to try and help shine a light on mental wellbeing by running every day in January of 2016 to raise money for the mental health charity Mind.

Physical activity has a positive impact on mental wellbeing and as a keen runner Hannah decided to marry the two together - Run Every Day January was conceived. A simple and concise premise that was born after witnessing the positive effect exercise had on her own mums’ experience with depression.

Hannah and I go way back to our film marketing days and during our time together we became aware of each other’s desire to make a difference when it came to mental health awareness. Just as Hannah’s mum had her struggles so too did mine and this unique bond between us is the reason behind my passion for the RED January movement.

In 2015 there was very little being done to remove the stigma from mental health issues and Run Every Day January was the first step in the incredible RED January journey.

I have been creatively responsible for RED January since 7th July 2015, the day that Hannah first discussed her idea with me.

I am full of admiration for Hannah’s commitment and resolve during this time, to say it was a challenge would be selling her efforts short, but she handled the situation delicately, and with a calmness that many would struggle to achieve.

Charlie Loft, Creative Director & Founder, Yolk

The initial idea was tailored around Hannah’s love of running and so we needed something that just spelt it out, an icon that said ‘what it did on the tin’ as well as typographically hitting the message home.

R.E.D January was launched as a fund-raising charitable challenge on November 2nd, 2015, with literally a logo, a T-shirt, flyers, a sponsorship form and a fund-raising ideas PDF. There were no paid ads, no PR and no partnerships - Hannah, me and our friends were promoting the movement on our own Facebook and Instagram pages – that was it.

RED January 2016 raised over £22k - IncREDible!

Through 2017/18 Hannah and myself created content (and promotional ideas including T-shirts and flyers etc) in our spare time, as by day she was marketing films, and I was busy running the Yolk studio. R.E.D January social channels were opened as we pulled in favours and worked towards widening the net.

R.E.D January 2017 & 2018 raised over £1m for Mind! A staggering amount considering we were, for the most part, still just promoting through nonpaid social channels.

Running every day is a fantastic challenge, and is perfect for fund-raising, but can be limiting to people of varying abilities. Hannah recognised that to make this movement more accessible, and not just a fund-raising activity, we needed to evolve it from singularly running and move to being ‘active’ instead.

Run Every Day equals R.E.D and that had been the foundation of the campaign to date. To shift focus from ‘running’ to being ‘active’ meant a change of tact was needed in order to recruit new REDers whilst also reintroducing RED to the existing community.

We came to the logical conclusion that we needed something more than R.E.D January and so RED Together was introduced as the overarching ‘mother brand’. This would allow us to be bigger than the month of January whilst keeping community at the heart of everything RED did.

For the 2018/2019 campaign we managed to secure some funding. We had a lot of work to do, we needed to reintroduce RED January as something for everyone of all abilities and that it was not just about running anymore.

This amount of work isn’t something that you can do in your spare time so, incredibly, Hannah left her full-time job and focused all her efforts on promoting RED January. For me, I needed to bring the work into the Yolk studio so that we could utilise its expertise and talent for the success of the movement.

Strategy, planning, creativity, photography, content, design & production, packaging, medals, website design and a plethora of other collateral for local Minds all needed to be created and delivered for the beginning of October to hit the ‘go live’ date.

Thanks to people like Dame Kelly Holmes and Fearne Cotton (and other well-known figures) taking part we reached a much wider audience allowing Hannah to explain the benefits of physical activity on your mental wellbeing and move the conversation away from just running helping grow the community to over 60,000!

January 2020 would be the last time that Mind would be RED’s primary charity partner. Between 2016 and 2020 the RED Community had raised over £2.5m to help keep the conversation about mental health going.

No one was prepared for what happened next. Covid 19, the subsequent pandemic and lockdown turned the world upside down. With uncertainty all around this was an incredibly sensitive and important time for everyone.

Working remotely and brainstorming ways in which we could keep community spirit alive whilst everyone needed to stay isolated was intense and rewarding at the same time. I am full of admiration for Hannah’s commitment and resolve during this time, to say it was a challenge would be selling her efforts short, but she handled the situation delicately, and with a calmness that many would struggle to achieve.

As RED January’s reason for being is to empower people to directly support their own mental wellbeing, whilst raising funds to support others, the 2021 campaign needed to continue to be mindful and respectful of everyone’s situation, whilst also showing the continued importance of supporting mental health charities. We were proud to champion a new charity partner, Sport in Mind.

Being ‘together in purpose, if not in person’ was our mantra through this tumultuous time. RED January had successfully evolved from a charity fund-raising activity into a nationwide movement for better mental wellbeing.

RED January has continued to grow in stature with research from the University of Oxford proving that RED has a positive effect on its participants. The RED Community has grown to over 250k. RED January has raised over £3m for mental health charities across the UK and continues to climb year on year. Hannah was awarded the Prime Ministers points Of Light Award last year and this year has received an MBE.

I’d like to say a very heartfelt congratulations to my friend Hannah. Her dedication to the cause and her unwavering belief in ‘a movement that makes a difference’ is exceptional and should be recognised - something tells me that this is still only the beginning.

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