Last year I suddenly came into some money. Lots of money. More money than I’ll ever need. Logically, I decided to spend a hefty chunk on space travel and I booked a place on the Virgin Galactic space flight. I loved space - all kids do. My school space project in Junior 3 was 35 pages long but I wasn’t obsessed like some kids and I never got into science fiction. Is Star Wars science fiction? Well I loved that, obviously. $400,000 sounded like a price worth paying. I was to be number 421.
When I told my friends, they agreed that a trip into space would be cool but not something they’d really consider if the cash was theirs to spend. They all said they were excited for me but when the conversation turned to what they’d spend the money on - as it inevitably did - their own ideas were more creative, generous and responsible than mine. I became increasing embarrassed as I realised I was blowing a life-changing amount of money on what was essentially a selfish and pointless whim. A few days later I cancelled the flight.
I promised myself that I’d do something great with that space flight money. Something to really make a difference. I wanted to find a cool way to give the cash away - spread it around - but at the same time retain some kind of affinity with the benefactors. I thought long and hard about how to make an impact in a way that I could be involved in and would feel good about. I wrestled with this for ages and the more I thought about it, the more difficult it was.
That was how Wearelucky came about. I decided to pass on my good luck to others by giving away £1,000 every day. I planned to give the money to complete strangers - someone different every time - and all I’d ask is that they’d do something positive with the cash. I didn’t just want to share the money; I wanted to share the responsibility that came with it. I would take a few photos, ask a few questions and build a gallery of Lucky people and stories.
Well, that was the plan anyway. But giving away £1,000 every day is harder than it sounds. Trust me. Some days the opportunity just didn’t arise and on other occasions I’d end up giving away 5 or 6 grand in the space of a few hours. I’d constantly worry about how to approach a potential recipient and what his or her response might be. Would I come across as sanctimonious or maybe just mad? For a long time I was too nervous to approach strangers so I practiced on friends and family (they didn’t seem to mind) and their reactions and plans for the money made me feel humble, excited and keen to reach out further.
People naturally assume there’s a catch but there are no conditions or obligations other than to do ‘good’ with the money. I think it’s important that the definition of that remains entirely subjective.
I’m still concerned about how Wearelucky is perceived but my hopes and intentions for the project are simple. Wearelucky is a sincere documentation of the memorable characters I’ve encountered, the impact of the money and the remarkable stories collected along the way.