A local charity CEO is on a six-month sober mission to raise money to help struggling families access nutritious food, while paying tribute to her sister... and is hoping more islanders will join her.
Yvonne Corbin joined Caring Cooks as its Ambassador in 2019 and then became Chief Executive Officer in May 2021.
Explaining why she chose to stop drinking alcohol as a way of raising money for her charity, Yvonne said she thought it would not only be "relatable" as many people are rethinking their relationship with alcohol but would also help her pay homage to her sister, whom she lost through alcohol.
Prior to her challenge, Yvonne says she would drink most weekends and often two or three times a week, “whether there was an event or a dinner party or friends coming to the house”.
While most people usually decide to give up drinking for one month as part of 'Dry January' or 'Sober October', Yvonne decided to go for six months to make her challenge “extra difficult”.
“Alcohol has been a big part of my adult life,” she said.
“Jersey is a very social island, there is always something going on.
"I think it’s going to be the biggest challenge of my life.”
Pictured: Through her challenge, Yvonnes hopes to raise funds for Caring Cooks' Weekly Meal Service.
When she shared her plans with friends and family, she says she was met with “quite a bit of shock”, but also “a lot of support”.
“I think the main shock factor was the fact it was six months, but it would not be a challenge if it was not challenging, go big or go home is my motto,” she explained.
“The support element came up straight away, a lot of people said, ‘I will take that challenge with you,’ to support me and for themselves.”
In total, 55 people have joined the 'One-to-Six Challenge' in a bid to help raise around £20,000 to fund the running costs of Caring Cooks’ 'Weekly Meal Service' as well as supporting the charity’s food and nutrition educational programmes, which are currently run in five local primary schools.
The ‘Weekly Meal Service’ is the charity founding service and has been supporting vulnerable families during difficult times by providing meals on a weekly basis over the last eight years.
Pictured: Yvonne previously drank most weekends and often two or three times a week.
As she nears the end of her first month of sobriety, Yvonne confesses it hasn’t been a “massive challenge” to stop drinking.
“From day one, it has not really been an issue because I am doing it for charity. It takes away that choice, you don’t think, ‘I’ve done a couple of weeks, I can have a drink’ - you cannot do that.
“There’s only been one or two moments where there has been a fleeting moment of wanting a glass but you cannot even answer that question in your head.”
She says that, thanks to the charity element, she hasn’t struggled in social settings where other people were drinking.
“Once you tell people you are doing it for charity, you do not get that booze bully mentality,” she said. “They would have to be a pretty mean person to encourage you to drink.”
Beyond the benefits for the charity, Yvonne has reported many personal benefits. So much so, she believes it will be “very surprising” if she goes back to drinking.
She is even considering doing an extra six months when she reaches the end of her challenge, having been inspired by her friend 'Sober Jo' Ferbrache, who gave up drinking over three years ago.
“At the start, I felt really exhausted but I do not know if it was because it was a massive change on my body or the change in my diet, as I am also doing a 21-day cleanse and cutting out food groups, or a mix of the two.
“I noticed I sleep better - I do not wake up at 04:00 with an overactive mind. I get eight hours of sleep and I am in my bed earlier.
“My skin is better, my eyes are brighter and I have more mental clarity, that has been really noticeable. I don’t have any brain fog, I feel more focused at work and I am better at making decisions. I did not drink every day but there was a fogginess because I was not giving my body a long period of rest from alcohol.
“I suffer from asthma, and it’s reduced to nearly nothing, that’s really good news for me.”
“I am happier in general,” she added. “I do not have that kind of anxious mind, it’s made a massive difference so far.
"On a Sunday, I would feel very tired, I would have a list of things to do and I did not have the energy to do anything and I was making bad food choices. I don’t have that anymore.”
Pictured: The money raised will also contribute to Caring Cooks' food and nutrition educational programmes, which are currently run in five local primary schools.
While she didn’t expect as many people to join in her challenge, Yvonne hopes more islanders will decide to take part.
“Anyone can join at anytime, but you need to do a minimum of one month to make that difference,” she said. “You can set up your own JustGiving page or use mine.”
Anyone joining will be invited to join a Facebook group Yvonne has set up so that all the people on the challenge can “share stories, thoughts and tips”.
“I check in every day to see how people are doing, whether there have been any issues, if they have been in any social places and met challenges, because some people want you for their entertainment,” she explained.
“Being sober is not boring, it’s choosing to look after yourself a little bit more.
“There are lots of way that we are supporting each other, it’s a lovely community and you are definitely not on your own. We have lots of events coming up and it’s not all doom and gloom!”
“The challenge is a win-win,” she added. “You are doing it for yourself but also making a big difference in the community!”
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