Blackpool writer’s marathon for charity

Lauren-Nicole Mayes ran the London Marathon in aid of an important women’s charity. Now she’s heading back to Blackpool to continue to shine a light on working-class women’s lives.

Blackpool writer and actress, Lauren-Nicole Mayes, took on her biggest challenge yet this weekend – running in Sunday’s London Marathon in aid of the national perinatal mental health charity, Action on Postpartum Psychosis (APP).

Born and bred in Blackpool, Lauren broke into the world of writing having noticed a lack of stories representing the working-class women who raised her. Her first play BABYNUN XO premiered at The Lowry as part of a research and development week, following the story of Isabella and Mike and exploring the impact of postpartum psychosis (PP). The piece has since developed as a TV idea and now follows the stories of five sisters as one experiences the impact of PP which both unites and fractures them further. It has been picked up by It’s All Made Up Productions and now has a broadcaster attached.

“When I was researching Babynun XO I spent a huge amount of time speaking to APP’s community of women and families affected by postpartum psychosis – a serious postpartum mental illness that affects around 1,400 women each year,” Mayes said. “I saw first-hand how vital the charity is when it comes to helping people recover from this devastating illness, and I can’t think of a better cause to fundraise for.”

Postpartum psychosis affects 1-2 in every thousand births in the UK and it can occur completely out of the blue in women with no previous mental health problems. Symptoms include extreme elation or euphoria, sudden mood changes and the rapid onset of unusual beliefs. Women may also experience visual and auditory hallucinations, extreme confusion and anxiety. It’s a serious illness that should always be considered a medical emergency, however, most women do go on to make a full recovery with the right treatment and support.

In Blackpool, APP runs in-person peer support ‘café groups’ as well as providing one-to-one peer support for families affected by PP or other manic/psychotic illnesses in the perinatal period. The charity works in partnership with Lancashire and South Cumbria NHS Foundation Trust to provide peer support at Ribblemere Mother and Baby Unit in Chorley and as part of community mental health teams. APP has paid peer supporters and volunteers who support women and families with a range of experiences both in hospital and in the community across the region.

You can become so fixated on the end goal, but the training in itself, both from a physical and psychological point of view, is a marathon in its own right.

Mayes has been training hard for the past few months in order to take on this significant challenge in support of APP.

“I never really considered myself a serious runner before deciding to take on the London Marathon,” Mayes said. “I used to run 5km and park runs, but since signing up to the marathon it has become all-consuming. I can’t believe I am now running 30 kilometres on a Saturday each week!

“You can become so fixated on the end goal, but the training in itself, both from a physical and psychological point of view, is a marathon in its own right. It’s safe to say I was nervous but I kept reminding myself that I am limitless.”

In 2023 Lauren was selected for BBC Writers Room: Northern Voices where she developed her ideas for TV. More recently, she was chosen as one of the final two writers for the inaugural regional Breakthrough Writers Programme by WARP Films for her original series idea SHIT.GOD.SHIT which was also a stage play.

Fresh off the back of the London marathon, Mayes returns to Blackpool this week to run a workshop as part of the Old Electric’s Power Plays festival of writing. She will be hosting a Q&A on getting started as a writer, discussing her journey as an artist, perceived barriers to writing and how being part of a working-class community has informed her writing.

“We are all in awe at Lauren’s commitment and passion for fundraising for APP,” Felicity Lambert, APP’s national fundraising co-ordinator said: “Running a marathon is no mean feat, and we know that she will not only do us proud on the day, but she has also been raising lots of awareness for the charity and for postpartum psychosis more broadly in the run up as well. We are so grateful for all her support – both in terms of her fundraising efforts and of course the stories she is telling on stage and screen. The more people who know about postpartum psychosis, the more quickly women can be diagnosed and the more lives can be saved.”

Mayes set herself a £1,000 fundraising goal for APP and had raised £1,500 when she ran on Sunday. You can still donate here. For more information on peer support for APP click here. Head to Mayes’ Q&A at the Old Electric on Sunday by booking here.

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