Trek Ireland

23rd December 2014

Walk

 

It’s Christmas, and most of us will be donning party hats, spending time with family, and tucking into tasty food. But it’s also a time of giving, sharing, and remembering those less fortunate. On return from his placement in India, Raleigh alumnus Peter helped support those closer to home in a unique way: by walking across Northern Ireland in the depths of winter, raising awareness and funds for homeless people in the UK as he went.

It’s an issue that’s often overlooked, but tonight over 2400 people will sleep rough on streets in the UK. It’s a shocking figure, but also one which is, due to the economic climate, on the rise. As part of his Action at Home, Raleigh ICS volunteer Peter committed to use his ambition for change to make a difference in his own community. Peter organised a 100 mile trek across Northern Ireland, walking from Belfast to Donegal with four friends to raise funds for homelessness organisation Simon’s Community. As if that wasn’t enough, they pledged to sleep rough every night, trusting only to sleeping bags and waterproof liners to keep them from the elements.

Walk

Before volunteering with Raleigh, Peter worked in Leeds General Infirmary. “Every day homeless people are admitted. The average life expectancy of a homeless person in the UK is 47 for males and 43 for females – a life expectancy which is lower than for those born in the Central African Republic.” Homelessness is an issue which disproportionately impacts young people: over half of those receiving help for homelessness are under the age of 25. “It is a particular problem for those leaving the care system and who lack family support structures.”

Peter’s walk aimed to show the realities of sleeping rough. Starting on the 13th December, the team walked in all weathers, sleeping under the open sky every night for a week. “Ulster is a cold, wet, grey place sometimes” says Peter, but the group soon realised that “getting to sleep whist sleeping rough is a lot easier if you have just walked 20 miles”.

Donegal

They finally reached Donegal on the 20th December - a particularly apt day to complete the challenge. The 20th December is International Human Solidarity Day, where people all over the world come together to eradicate poverty, and support those facing social exclusion. Peter’s walk contributed to this movement in a big way, raising over £1500 for Simon’s Community, which works to support homeless people by alleviating social isolation, and offering a safe place to stay.

“I hope that enough was raised to make at least a little difference in getting people into housing.”

Raleigh alumni all over the world are doing their part to make the world a better, fairer place for everyone. Peter’s efforts are an inspiration and a reminder of the positive impact we can have, at home and overseas. Thank you to our alumni for your energy, inspiration and enthusiasm, and a very merry Christmas to you all.

Peter's challenge is just one of the projects our alumni have undertaken to make a positive impact, at home and abroad. Have you been involved in project in your community? Let us know at alumni@raleighinternational.org.