Ben Alchin kept his sense of humour last friday, even as he lost most of his hair. The Bupa Tumut Maintenance Officer raised $550 for the anti-bullying foundation Dolly’s Dream by auctioning off body wax strips and shaving his head.
“It went very well actually,” said Mr Alchin, describing the afternoon when Bupa staff dressed in PPE did the waxing and shaving and Bupa residents watched on.
“I think the staff had a lot of fun. I was regretting it come third or fourth strip in.”
Optimistically, Mr Alchin purchased ‘pain-free’ wax strips.
“Not the case,” he said.
“Definitely not pain free. The ones on the back were the ones that hurt the most on my actual shoulder blades.”
Mr Alchin sold 20 wax strips, which could be placed at “buyer’s choice.” He said most waxers went for his back, and the event helped bring some laughter to the home, which has been somewhat isolated from the community during Covid-19.
“We used our social distancing, we had our PPE, so we’ve got all our gowns, that sort of stuff,” he said.
“I definitely have patches everywhere and a bald head.”
The idea was first raised at a leadership meeting about six months ago. Mr Alchin said the staff have a calendar and try to involve various fundraisers in the Bupa home each month.
“I just put my hand up to wax and shave my head,” he said. “No second thoughts, I just thought, ‘That’s a good cause. I’ll do that.’”
‘Do it for Dolly Day’ was established after 14-year-old Dolly Everett died by suicide in 2018 after an extended period of bullying and cyberbullying. The day is intended to raise awareness and funds, uniting the community in standing against bullying.
Jodie Walker, General Manager, Bupa Tumut, said everyone at the home enjoyed the event
and were more than happy to tear strips of Ben for a good cause.
“I don’t think Ben knew exactly what he was in for, but a lot of his fellow employees and our
residents jumped at the chance to show him.
“In all seriousness, it’s a wonderful cause and is very timely at the moment to shine a light on
mental health while we’re all facing some form of isolation. Ben has his own personal
connection to the cause and we are so happy our home could contribute to his fundraising
goals,” Jodie said.
A long-time local, Mr Alchin said he’s concerned about the rates of depression and suicide in the Snowy Valleys.
The cause is personal for Mr Alchin, who lost his aunt to suicide about 9 months ago. She had been living in France and was previously in Melbourne, and Ben said it was a shock to his family.
“Absolute shock. Disbelief,” he said. “It’s very unexpected. It’s a big shock to the system when a family member’s done that.
“Your first initial thing is to try and call that person because you don’t believe it. It sort of sinks in very quickly.”
He said his family has been recovering well, staying close to one another, but the news was “out of the blue” for them.
“You don’t have time to prepare, because they weren’t ill,” he said. “You don’t have time to grieve and prepare. It was a bit of a bombshell.”
Mr Alchin said he’s hoping that the fundraiser helps bring the topic to light, especially in the Snowy Valleys which has lost too many people, especially young men, to suicide.
“In our area there’s a lot of it, unfortunately, and a lot of them are young, too,” he said.
“They’ve got their whole lives ahead of them, and it’d be good if they could realise that there’s light at the end of a dark tunnel.”
For anyone feeling down or isolated or experiencing suicidal thoughts, Mr Alchin urged reaching out.
“Speak up. Don’t be ashamed,” he said.
“Everyone’s got problems, and to every problem there’s a solution. Suicide’s not he solution.
“Seek help. There’s always help, there’s always people that will help.”
If you or anyone you know needs support with their mental health, there are multiple organisations which are available by phone and online.
Phone: 13 11 14 (24 hours/7 days)
Text: 0477 13 11 14 (6pm – midnight every night)
Online: https://www.lifeline.org.au/crisis-chat (7pm – midnight, everynight)
Phone: 1300 22 4636 (24 hours/7 days)
Phone: 1800 650 890
Phone: 1800 18 7263 (10am-10pm, Mon-Fri.)
Phone: 1800 55 1800