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The Brazette

The end-of-year review we were a little too tired to do.

15 January 2021

Cast your minds back to January 2020. Were you touching door handles in a care-free way? Hugging friends? Enjoying meetings with no buffering? We’ve been looking back on the year that was 2020, and thinking about how strange it feels to remember a life without periodic sanitiser and a bedroom-to-living-room commute. So here’s our year in review, hitting your screens in mid-January, because, honestly, we needed a bit of time to reflect:

We start the year in the only way we know how: with fresh stationery. Sparkling new business cards, to be precise. They’re glittery, covered in boobs and ready to be dispatched to the masses as we network our way to boob checking nirvana. “GOSH, THESE CARDS ARE GONNA GET SO MUCH ACTION!”, we think to ourselves, absentmindedly fanning them out like we’re in Wolf of Wall Street.

 

January also sees the launch of our newest event: the Sahara desert trek. After months of careful planning, we open applications for the challenge and are overwhelmed with the response. Emma and the team spend much of January locked away in the meeting room, sifting through the replies and gushing about the applicants. Coffees are consumed, happy tears are shed and 85 superstars are selected to join the trek.

February kicks off with World Cancer Day and the promotion of our new Boob Bot – with help from some social media superstars. Dr Zoe Williams hosts a Q&A on our stories, Maisie Hill braves a live check-a-long and CoppaFeel! patrons from Perrie Edwards to Fearne Cotton share the bot with their communities. In 24 hours, more than 4000 young people use the bot to get to know their boobs or pecs. We double check the figures multiple times and count our lucky stars.

High from the success of World Cancer Day, we go out on a limb and ask everyone to get naked for Valentines day, partnering with Scribbler cards on their plastic free ‘naked’ cards, in aid of CoppaFeel!. Samples arrive at the office and we squabble over who gets to keep the hot priest. No-one gets to keep the hot priest, but the partnership raises £9,691.42 for CoppaFeel! – love wins.

On the 19th of February, our founder Kris marks her 11th cancerversary – a date that signifies over a decade of living with stage four breast cancer. Kris celebrates by appearing on Steph McGovern’s Packed Lunch – an event that sadly didn’t involve any mini chocolate bars, but did see Kris and Uni Boob Team leader Jess being broadcast to TV screens across the nation. Not bad for a woman who says she’s really ‘not that exciting and just likes cats’. We’d beg to differ. Who says being exciting and liking cats have to be mutually exclusive, Kris?!

Not the 64 million households that watched Tiger King, that’s for sure. Yep, we all know what happens in March – the nation goes into lockdown and Carol Baskin becomes a household name. We launch our Pick of The Week, a Friday mailer which essentially consists of the contents of our team whatsapp, with recommendations to keep you occupied whilst the pandemic reigns outside. We plan content for a few months, thinking this will all blow over soon. Pick of The Week ends up running until October.

Around this time, people start using words like ‘pivot’ and ‘unprecedented’ and we have to come to terms with the fact that we’ll have to cancel most of the events we’d planned for 2020. We start using phrases like ‘Thrill Collins’ and ‘just wear something nice on your top-half’ and ‘Houseparty’ – whilst having a kitchen disco to the first of many, many, lockdown zooms. Our fundraising team launch Formal Fridays* and see our community get their glad-rags on to raise much needed money for CoppaFeel!. We also reveal the very exciting news that we’re joining ASDA’s long-standing Tickled Pink partnership, alongside Breast Cancer Now – a total game-changer for our charity and it’s people.

*Reflecting on this, Formal Fridays feels like something that could only ever have worked in spring 2020. Does anyone change out of their trackies in 2021? Anyone?!

In April, a woman called Ellie gets in contact with us to share her story. Aged 28, she’d just been diagnosed with breast cancer, after being prompted to check her boobs by CoppaFeel! on Instagram. Ellie’s story makes us proud of the work we’re doing, but it also makes us worry. We worry that many young people will delay seeing a GP because of the coronavirus. Clare, our Healthcare Engagement Coordinator, teams up with CoppaFeel!’s Medical Advisory Group members to bring our community the most up-to-date advice on seeing a GP. We remind our community over and over again that their doctors still want to hear from them. More young people get in contact to tell us they’ve been diagnosed during lockdown. Even though we worry that we’re sounding like a broken record, we continue to harp on about seeing a doctor.

It doesn’t take long for us to find the word ‘pivot’ sneaking into our lexicon, as we update our programmes for a digital world. In April we launch our first ever Boobette webinars, bringing our superstar storytellers to rapt zoom audiences across the nation. This is followed by the Sofa Series, our first ever streaming event. The series launches in May and brings Greg James, Perrie Edwards, AJ Odudu, Carrie Fletcher, Giovanna Fletcher and a host of other famous faces to your locked down living rooms. Impressively for an event organised by a team of two and turned around in about 6 weeks, the Sofa Series raises over £17,000.

In June, CoppaFeel! Celebrates Pride Month with a series of takeovers from our community. We start with a week-long social stream from Black Women Rising, followed by takeovers from LGBTQI+ cancer charity Live Through This, Grab Life By The Boobs cast-member Theo and student ambassador Ollie. We’re reminded of the many people and organisations that give CoppaFeel! and its sector reason to be proud.

The world is rocked by the death of George Floyd – igniting a critical conversation on anti-racism, both in the US and across the globe. We reflect that whilst our message has always been intended for everyone, we can and should do more to reach all young people. We release a statement on the work we’re doing to ensure that Black people are an active and intentionally included part of every conversation that we lead, and begin recruitment for CoppaFeel!’s Inclusive Change Advisory Group, with it’s first meeting in September 2020

July and August see us taking part in Livity’s Brand Share The Mic Initiatives, which pairs organisations with young Black creatives to take over their channels for a day. CoppaFeel! is first matched with Georgia – a mental health advocate from London who takes the reins on Instagram to talk Blackness and body positivity, breast cancer scares and mental health. In August, we’re joined by Angel, who was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma at 22. Angel shares her thoughts on going through cancer as a young black woman, finding her feet beyond treatment, and how she used fitness to find agency in a time of uncertainty. Georgia and Angel’s candid words hit home with our community – their posts for CoppaFeel! are some of our most viewed of the  summer.

In keeping with a month of spectacular social – Avon hold their Summer Squeeze Campaign for CoppaFeel! – spreading the word about checking and holding a series of Instagram live Boobette talks with Community & Corporate Fundraising Manager, Ellie. Ellie and the Avon team spend a week wanging on about, well, wangers – and to great effect. As well as being some of our top fundraisers of the year, Avon and their Representatives reach thousands of young people with our life-saving message

As summer comes to an end, we head back to (virtual) Boob school with the launch of our A-Z of Boob posters. In the first month they are downloaded over 100 times, a figure updated daily by our Education Coordinator Millie, who spent the month checking in a way that could either be called extraordinarily diligent or borderline obsessive. We also hold our first ever virtual Boob School with our fresh new intake of Uni Boob Team leaders and realise we had no need to be nervous about hosting a four hour Zoom session – their enthusiasm transcends all screens and muted mics.

September also marked six months since the start of the pandemic, and a month in which we started to realise the full impact of the coronavirus on CoppaFeel! Having spent months planning a safe way for us to return to normal boob business, we returned to the office for a glorious three weeks, thanks to the herculean efforts of our our Office Manager Eleanor. And then everything changed again. Despite the best efforts of our community and team, we calculated that 90% of our programs and projects had been affected by COVID. With 10% paused, 40% cancelled entirely, and another 40% shifted to running virtually. Awareness of CoppaFeel! and our message was down, and so was our income. September, if we’re totally honest, had its challenges.

It’s lucky, then, that our supporters and fundraisers are not ones to back down from a challenge. We may not have been planning for a typical Hilly Hundred or looking forward to welcoming the masses to Festifeel, but, thanks to our community, we had other tricks up our sleeve. September saw the first ever virtual Hilly Hundred, inspired by a veteran Cornish cyclist, Liz. And our community gave meaning to the word inspired, raising money through birthday fundraisers, cake delivery services, virtual DJ sets and macrame titwear. As well as raising precious funds, they helped our team through a tough time. Our community fundraisers served as a constant reminder of why we do what we do: because we want everyone, no matter their age, to survive breast cancer.

Which brings us to October. Thanks to some very special people, October was a Breast Cancer Awareness Month like no other. From TitToks to Twitter takeovers, partners who launched collections in aid of CoppaFeel! to the celebrity friends who cheered Kris and Maren through 12 solid hours of bouncing, our community rallied together in the name of norks. And boob dreams came true when the team got to hold it’s own socially-distanced supermarket sweep, seeing, for the first time, the ASDA Tickled Pink products in stores!

Remember those trekkers we recruited in January? 85 of them, all stoked to trek the Sahara and committed to raising funds for our charity? The thing is, we couldn’t take them to the Sahara. Britain was back in lockdown and flights were grounded. We made the incredibly difficult decision to postpone the trek, and despite it all, this bunch continued to go above and beyond to support CoppaFeel! With the trek moved to 2021, we wanted to celebrate the champions who’d kept going in the toughest of times, so we marked the occasion with our star trekker awards, borrowing a format from Bake-Off to pay tribute to the superstars of the Sahara – Chrissy, Callie, Alison, Francesca, Emma and Hannah.

Speaking of awards, November saw CoppaFeel! win something of our own: the National Lottery Community Fund. Thanks to a government grant, we’d secured funding to help develop a brand new tool tol build chest-checking confidence in young people – launching in a few months time. At least one of us cried upon hearing the news.

Heading into December, we felt a bit more hopeful about the future. It’s true, we’d had a very tough year, and so had the community we serve, but it started to feel like there might be light at the end of the tunnel. We signed off plans for 2021, schemed ways to get back on track, and reflected on the people who’d helped us get through the last 9 months. From the Queen B’s of the Boobette world, Aimi, Becci and Shelley, to the many people who left humbling messages on our virtual Christmas tree, we knew that we had a lot to be thankful for. Never ones to pass up an opportunity to say thank you, we rounded off the year with a very special Christmas card, and said a prayer to the gods of copyright that we wouldn’t get a sharp email from Richard Curtis. Because if there’s one thing he was right about, it’s that love really is all around. Here’s to tackling 2021 with the people we love the most (you).

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