Richmond CEOs walk marathon for residents affected by Covid lockdown

Video: Chloe Wright

The CEOs of four charities in Richmond joined forces to walk a marathon to raise awareness and money for their services which help the vulnerable.

Richmond AID, Citizens Advice Richmond (CAR), Richmond Borough Mind and Ruils walked the 26.2 miles together on Saturday October 17.

CEO of CAR Simon Lawson, who organised the event, said: “During the pandemic, many large fundraising events have been cancelled, yet Citizens Advice Richmond has seen a big increase in advice problems as people face loss of income, redundancy, mounting debt and even homelessness due to the crisis.

“Bringing four charities together unites us in a common goal – supporting Richmond residents through the unprecedented challenges they are facing.”

From left to right – Cathy Maker, Ruils, Lucy Byrne, Richmond AID, Val Farmer, Richmond Borough Mind, Simon Lawson, Citizens Advice Richmond. Photo: Gerry Sheridan

The marathon began at the London Eye at 8.30am and followed the Thames past some of London’s most iconic landmarks, including the Houses of Parliament and Kew Gardens.

The 30 participants followed Government Covid-19 guidelines and socially distanced in groups of six.

A range of ages took part, with the oldest person being 69-years-old, and the youngest only seven.

Seven-year-old Chelsea Lawson said: “I wanted to do the walk, because I like helping the charity.”

The marathon began at the London Eye. Photo: Chloe Wright

Richmond AID’s CEO Lucy Byrne said: “Our advice and information services, benefits advice, debt support and counselling are already in much higher demand than usual.

“We have set up a whole range of services like our food hub, befriending support and our helpline to ensure disabled people have someone to turn to during this difficult time.

“If you do want to donate to the food hub, we have a donation box at the back of our building.”

The food hub, on Waldegrave Road, Teddington, relies on donations and volunteers. It delivered 1,500 food parcels to disabled people.

Ruils, which focuses on independent living, wanted people to know that its services will be available for as long as they are needed.

“Our workshops, one to one advice and practical support from our food delivery service, have been running throughout this difficult time and will continue as long as people need us,” said Ruils CEO Cathy Maker.

Covid-19 led to a demand for services

The pandemic saw an increase in the number of people out of work as the furlough scheme began. As of August, 730,000 people had lost their jobs according to data published by the Office for National Statistics and reported by Sky News.

Mental health has been affected by job losses across the country. Val Farmer, CEO of Richmond Borough Mind, said there had been an increase in demand for the services the charity offers as a result of people being made unemployed.

“Demand for support since March has greatly increased across all age groups and we are seeing Covid-stressors such as health anxiety, job insecurity and isolation trigger a deterioration in mental health,” she said.

Farmer added that Richmond Borough Mind work with people of all needs, “from low to moderate mental health needs, to severe and enduring”.

Byrne said: “If you do need our services, please do contact us, any of the charities involved and we will do our best to provide support to you.”

All four charities rely on volunteers and are looking for people to help out. The charities do supply training. Contact the charities online if you want to volunteer your time or resources.

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