The Rotary Bipolar E-club, the first club of its kind, received its official charter in an online ceremony hosted by Rotary District 1145.
The club will be exclusively open to anyone who has been affected by bipolar, whether that be people living with the condition, close friends and family members of those who do, or just those with an avid interest.
Being an online club, it’s open to anyone affected by bipolar from across the world and the plan is to meet online for fortnightly meetings.
The club aims to increase awareness of the support available to those affected by bipolar as well as drive forward projects that can increase the amount of people getting diagnosed with the condition.
There are potentially over 200 million people affected by bipolar across the world, and within that, there are thousands of people who would love to be able to take action within Rotary.”
This club also furthers the strong partnership between Rotary Great Britain & Ireland and Bipolar UK, with Bipolar UK CEO, Simon Kitchen, taking the role of President of The Rotary Bipolar E-club.
Introducing himself during the ceremony, Simon said: “When we first had the discussions about setting up an E-club, I was delighted to put myself forward as President.
“Rotary has such an amazing reputation in my community up here in Hexham, Northumberland, and I was really delighted to be invited to join so I’ve taken up this opportunity with gusto!”
On why there was a need to set up the club, Simon explained: “Bipolar itself is a really important condition which is completely neglected and it’s amazing that Rotary has been able to pick up the challenge.
“1 in 50 adults are living with bipolar across the world, which is a staggering number, but when you consider that another 5 people are affected per individual through close friends, family and work, that figure rises to 1 in 10.
“We believe this can provide a fantastic opportunity for people affected by bipolar to come together and learn about the condition – there’s going to be lots of webinars and workshops for people joining.
“There are potentially over 200 million people affected by bipolar across the world, and within that, there are thousands of people who would love to be able to take action within Rotary as well and join this amazing Rotary network as I have done.”
Dozens of people gathered on Zoom to witness the ceremony from in and outside of Rotary, with Rotary Zone Director Eve Conway, Former Rotary International Vice President Nicki Scott, and Bipolar Ambassador Nicky Chinn sharing their excitement for the new club.
It was Rotary International President Gordon McInally who got to present the charter certificate to Simon, whilst also addressing those in attendance on why prioritising mental health is important.
Gordon, also an ambassador for Bipolar UK, started his term as Rotary International President in July 2023 and, upon becoming taking office, he announced that one of his main presidential initiatives would be prioritising mental health and wellbeing.
Gordon said: “It troubles me that, in so many parts of the world, asking for help in the field of mental health is considered a weakness.
“I’ve heard it said that the mental health system isn’t broken, it just hasn’t been built yet. Well, maybe Rotary can, as it has done with so many other things in the past, help to build it.”
At the end of the ceremony, Gordon presented Simon with the official charter certificate whilst encouraging those on the call to raise a toast.
Gordon said to Simon: “One of the great privileges of being President of Rotary International is getting the opportunity to sign the charter certificate of all the clubs that are formed during one’s year in office, and one of the first charters that I’ve had the opportunity to sign is indeed this charter for your club.
“That makes me very pleased and delighted to see how this partnership between yourselves and Rotary GB&I has developed over the past two years and come to this point.”