The WHY NOT? foundation was set up in 2010 to improve the quality of life of people with mental illnesses or disorders and their families. Rather than specifically targeting the field of healthcare, the initiative seeks to enrich the lives of those affected in the area of leisure and spare time activities.
LOVAT&GREEN has always believed strongly in the marvellous work of all the team at WHY NOT? who are disinterestedly striving to help people who are suffering in their everyday lives.
In our own humble way, we try to contribute to this work, but we have always done our best to highlight the fantastic work being done by the foundation, explaining what they do and the results they are achieving in making so many people so happy.
The foundation’s mission is to work alongside these people, helping to make their lives happier and more pleasant.
Every project or activity WHY NOT? offers them helps to motivate them, rekindle their enthusiasm and bring them out of their social isolation.
The foundation tries to identify and implement projects that will allow these individuals and their families to experience healthy and happy moments.
We interview Pablo Munilla, Founder and Director of the Foundation.
HOW DID YOU FIRST HAVE THE IDEA FOR THE FOUNDATION?
I travel a lot to South Africa on business. There was a ghetto close to the place where we used to stay, and we started bringing clothes, medicine and so on to help the people there.
When I was on those trips, I often thought about the idea of setting up an NGO to help society. One time, on my return, I was having dinner with some friends, and I told them about my ideas. We started thinking about ways we could help.
We realised that amongst those of us who were at the dinner, we all had come close contact with someone with a mental illness; one guy’s father had bipolar disorder; another had a brother with schizophrenia; another was a psychologist, and so on. And we realised that this was an area we could offer help in.
So we decided to set up the Why Not? Foundation. We started by going round different psychiatric centres and examining ways we could help. We saw that we could improve the life of people with mental illness through occupational therapy. So we decided to offer leisure time activities to help improve the quality of life of people with mental illness and their families.
WHAT DIFFICULTIES DID YOU ENCOUNTER IN STARTING UP THE FOUNDATION?
Like any project, there were a lot of teething troubles at first. When we started out, we didn’t have much in the way of resources. We began taking activities to the psychiatric centres, and then later we set up the “Why Not Hut”.
WHAT ACTIONS AND EVENTS DOES THE FOUNDATION CARRY OUT ON A DAY-TO-DAY BASIS?
At the Why Not Hut, we organise activities of all kinds with backing from professional staff and over 15 volunteers we work with. We organise language classes (in Basque, English and French), sports (swimming, gym, yoga, football and basketball), a reading workshop, a music workshop, an art workshop, handicrafts, etc.
We also run Radio Why Not, which is a travelling radio station that goes round the different centres we work at, recording programmes with users from each place. It’s a very special tool which gives users a chance to create, communicate and express their thoughts and feelings.
WHAT ACHIEVEMENTS ARE YOU MOST SATISFIED WITH?
In general, we’re very pleased with the path the Foundation has taken. We’ve managed to achieve a degree of stability, enabling us to offer our services to all users entirely free of charge.
We have more than 380 users on file, of whom 50 different people come to the Why Not Hut each week. Others are connected to us through the travelling radio station which goes to their centres and hospitals, and through the basketball and football tournaments we organise.
And we’ve made over 1,000 radio programmes on Radio Why Not.
HOW DID YOU COME UP WITH THE NAME “WHY NOT?”?
We took the name of the Foundation from a quotation from George Bernard Shaw:
You see things; and you say ‘Why?’ But I dream things that never were; and I say ‘Why not?
WHICH PROJECT OR ACTIVITY HAS BEEN BEST RECEIVED?
There are activities at the centre that have been very successful; there’s plenty of variety and some of them have been going for many years now with lots of participants. Last year we recorded a short film with participation from users of the Hut and it was a great success. It even won a prize at a festival.
Why Not Radio has also been very successful.
WHAT BOOK WOULD YOU RECOMMEND FOR ANYONE INTERESTED IN PUTTING THEMSELVES IN THE SHOES OF THE PEOPLE YOU HELP?
“Saldremos de esta” (a guide to mental health) by Javier Erro.
WHAT ABOUT A FILM… OR A SERIES?
The film “Silver Linings”.
WHAT IS THE WHY NOT? FOUNDATION’S DREAM?
We dream of being able to go on providing our services to users free of charge and to keep opening every day of the week. We’d like to have a wider variety of activities on offer and be able to have our own radio station.
HOW CAN YOU BRING GREATER VISIBILITY TO PROJECTS LIKE THIS?
Support from public authorities is very important in making it more visible so that we can all help remove the stigma of mental illness.
WHAT WOULD YOU SAY TO PEOPLE OR COMPANIES WHO ARE READING THIS? HOW CAN THEY HELP OUT?
There are a number of different ways you can work with the Foundation. You can take out a corporate or individual membership and make donations by registering on our website at www.fundacionwhynot.org.
And at the same time, anyone wanting to volunteer to help can also contact us via the website. We also work with different companies to organise joint activities with their employees and our users, or to organise a specific activity, such as a canoeing trip round the Concha bay, for example, or a photography workshop… or we can organise a tour of their premises.