Teams to take on 375-mile walking challenge for Norfolk charities
- Credit: James Bagge
Norfolk charities which have signed up to a fundraising walk challenge are taking action in response to the damage caused by the pandemic.
The Walking4Norfolk challenge, which is supported by the Norfolk Community Foundation, launches on May 12 at Norwich Cathedral with teams of five 'virtually' walking the 375 miles from Norwich to Notre-Dame in Paris within their local area.
Around 15 teams have already signed up, supporting 10 charities and the Walking4Norfolk Fund for Unpaid Carers, which will receive a voluntary percentage of funds raised or optional entry fees.
The charities represented include East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices (EACH), Norfolk and Waveney Mind, Swan Youth Project in Downham Market, Norfolk Blood Bikes and St Martins Housing Trust in Norwich.
It comes after a similar 940-mile lockdown challenge last year raised around £45,000 for young carers and three nominated charities.
Among the teams taking part this year are the Sheringham Strollers and St. George's Gang, who are walking on behalf of the Sheringham Little Theatre and St. George's Theatre in Great Yarmouth respectively. Both teams are a mixture of staff and volunteers.
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Debbie Thompson, director of Sheringham Little Theatre, said: "As charities, both venues rely heavily on fundraising and the pandemic has had a devastating effect on our finances. We need to make huge efforts this year to help recoup our losses.
"We have really had to raise out game with fundraising. It's been very difficult for us losing the income from café trade and during the intervals. We are definitely in need of a big lift, but goodness gracious, we appreciate we are not alone in this."
Mrs Thompson said both theatres lost more than £100,000 during 2020, and although support has been offered through the government and the Cultural Recovery Fund, this has not covered the ongoing losses and overheads.
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Norfolk and Waveney Mind will also benefit from the challenge as the charity strives to ensure no-one has to face poor mental health alone.
The charity is busier than ever with 60pc of adults and young people who did not experience poor mental health before the pandemic now needing help.
A spokeswoman said: "The supporters taking part in this challenge are helping us to be there for everyone who needs us at this crucial time, whilst also helping us to raise awareness. Challenges like this also provide a great opportunity for participants and charities to come together."
Three teams made up of members of The Garage in Norwich and its sister venue The Workshop in King's Lynn are also taking part in the challenge.
Named the Rapid Referral Network Ramblers, Scrambled Legs and the Red Hot Chilli Steppers, the teams will be raising funds for the Garage's Chair Bursaries Fund appeal which will help young people facing challenging circumstances use the arts to change their lives through The Garage and The Workshop.
Danielle Gardner, assistant producer and performing arts tutor, said: "Red Hot Chilli Steppers are excited to get walking and raise money for The Garage. A little bit of healthy competition with our rival Garage teams also adds to the fun. We hope to beat them both to the virtual finish line in Paris."
Each participant will be walking roughly five miles a day for two weeks to reach the total of 375 required.
Norwich-based homeless charity St Martins has entered two teams, Striding for St Martin's and Legs Miserables.
Chair of trustees Colin Bland said: "I have been doing a lot of walking lately. I should be able to increase my mileage to around six miles per day, particularly when I can return to walking the golf course.
"St Martins is a charity close to all of our hearts and funds raised through Walking4Norfolk will enable more homeless people in the county to be supported into long term independence."
Walking4Norfolk was founded by former High Sherriff of Norfolk, James Bagge in 2018, inspired by the 100,000 unpaid carers in the county who provide selfless support to ill, older or disabled people.
Mr Bagge said: "The idea is initially focused on fundraising, that is the real value of it, and giving all these charities the opportunity to raise awareness of what they are doing."
Teams will be able to register for free via the Walking4Norfolk website at www.walking4norfolk.com. You can also follow @walking4norfolk on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram for updates on the progress of the challenge.