Dear gentlemen,
As we farewell 2021, It may be worthy excercise to look over the year and observe what has happened in our lives and how it has affected us. This may beckon us to the question of what have we achieved over the year and consolidate? There is a great possibility we can find gratitude in all of the challenges and trials we have faced.
 My name is Allen Morfoot and I am a proud director of Speak up Mate, since its inauguration In September 2020.  I would like to share a reflection of the year 2021 and express my gratitude for the challenges and victories I have had on my previous year both individually and working for Speak up Mate.
Personally in 2021; I have lost 3 people close and dear to me who were family members, and one of these being my shaman in the amazon where I lived and studied uder him and his family for 4 years. I have found grieving for him difficult, moreso because i have felt isolated from my family in peru and chile who i would have loved to hug and spend some time reflecting over the beautful experiences we shared. There is still a hole in my heart and an absence of him that I will never be able to see or listen to his shamanic wisdoms in quite the same way. Sometimes i dream with him, and i am grateful for that and long for the day i can visit my family in South America again.
Shortly after I lost my Aunty to her long 2.5 yr battle with cancer, who also left 3 beautiful children behind the youngest who was 14. A month later my grandfather passed away and I attended both of these funerals within the month. We were still grieving at the time of my grandfatheras passing .Most of us were partially numb and still in shock but were present for each other regardless, although i felt constricted and needing to be strong for my family and chose to drive them around on the day. Grief has been a challenge for me to learn to open up about, since i dont utilize social media much at all and there is an air of superficiality when you open your heart on a platform where everyone will interpret what you share so differently. My family, partner and speak up organisation has been my greatest support through phonecalls, zoom meetings and between lockdown waves with face to face catchups usually over food. My auntys daughter is becoming a good friend of mine and we all help her manage her stress and grief. Through our combined effort and support she has been able to find casual employment and maintains solid and dedicated application to school. She also sees a psychologist weekly. I am grateful for the opportunity to support her through her challenging ordeal and support her psychological development.
In 2021 I  also changed roles with my mental health nursing and decided to move from full time adolescent inpatient mental health to Mental health intensive care unit for acute presentations with adults. The change was welcoming and helped me get through some of the trials in the first half of the year with grief, loss and finding myself psychologically exhausted much of the time working with the younger generation full time.
In addition I started my masters course work for mental health and returned to University since february.
Covid also affected my life especially in my line of work, and the ability to visit and connect with family and friends. It has been a lonely and challenging time to go through grief sometimes isolated and lockdown from those who also loved the same people who passed on, a relatability that I have found challenging to share with people who are close to me but didnt know those who passed away. I am grateful for the technology and the culture of 2021 and the adaptation required through lockdown waves, so that life and planning has been able to continue as most face to face meetings and interviews were cancelled or deemed risky during lockdown, with Greater Sydney lockdown health orders in force for the greater part of the second half of 2021 in force.
Our Speak up mate organisation has been mostly online for 2021 with Covid putting a challenge on delivering quality content through both lived experiences and clinical knowledge to create workshops and community meetings. We have been doing most of this through zoom, and finding it highly rewarding to see more people attending our meetings. We have created presentations for office groups, presentated to the rotary club and in person with freemasons and the DeeWhy RSL club that have provided us with more support and encouragement that we have greatly appreciated. We are grateful for the volunteers and the supporters who have believed in our cause and identify that  embracing and empowering us to address mens mental health is of paramount importance for our individual communites and their culture, our own wellbeing and our families mental health.
Throughout 2021 I have been humbled and reminded  to let go of high expectations of everything going according to plan, and remained true to the focus and practice of daily gratitude and being reminded of the humility to deal with hardships and tests of will and strength. I am blessed with a supportive partner who was there for me in my darkest hours in grief and celebrates the victories and triumphs. I am grateful to be in a healthy and loving relationship and find safety and support within one another and continue our journey together. I am also grateful for the brotherhood of the Speak up directors space and the support and comfort that we can provide for each other during challenging moments and trials that we face both personal , professional and as a developing and evolving Not for profit organization.
Ill leave you all with the opportunity to reflect and look upon your 2021. If you discover some lessons within your experiences please comment below or bring your stories to the next speak up mate meeting, you are welcome anytime or through your own form of expression and what is comfortable for you. We are back to face to face community meetings in 2022 and really excited to continue supporting mens mental health in our respective communities. We are grateful to support you all where we can and empower easch other to live our best lives and improve our ability to talk and work through our mental health issues as a collecitve.
On behalf of the speak up mate directors, we wish you a happy and prosperous new year for 2022.