Meet some friends of RSN who've put on their trainers and run for young refugees.
"Hi guys, I'm running a daft 26 hilly miles along the downs round Lewes this March! Holy Macaroni.
We've been discussing recently the best way to help refugees who've found their way here - our daughter Poppy has been very inspired by a refugee topic at school of late and has done her bit to raise funds by running impromptu cake sales... not being such a fine baker myself I figure my best approach is to run a truly daft number of miles through the Sussex countryside- and ask you to support me to raise funds for Refugee Support Network which helps with education.
Of all the good causes out there I liked the idea of this one as education is so key to integration and establishing a positive identity."
"I am a 25-year-old History PhD student from Cardiff.
"Education has given me a purpose, self-worth and opportunities when I experienced an unstable and disruptive home life. Young refugees and displaced children deserve to have the same access to education and opportunities to succeed in their lives. This is why I decided to run for Refugee Support Network.
"I am excited (and a bit scared!) to run my first Cardiff half marathon and to contribute towards the fantastic projects RSN organises!"
"My name is Kady and I have been a volunteer educational mentor with Refugee Support Network for around a year. I have gained so much from mentoring and know how important the work is that RSN does with young refugees and asylum seekers, so when I decided to take part in a 10k run this year it was an easy decision to use the opportunity to raise funds for the charity.
"The Great Manchester Run takes place in May each year and over 30,000 runners take part. I signed up in January (having hit the mince pies hard over the festive season) and set about training during the spring months. I am not what you might call a ‘natural runner’ and found the training challenging, but the looming date of the run helped to motivate me, along with weekly mentoring sessions with my mentee as a good reminder of why I was fundraising. I also persuaded my dad to sign up, and swapping updates on our progress and miles covered in training helped to keep me on track!
"The day of the run was unseasonably hot (especially for Manchester, the rainy city!) so I decided to take it easy and drink lots of water. Unfortunately my dad got an injury so was unable to take part, but my family came down to cheer me on. The run was a lot more enjoyable than I had expected and compared to training runs – the crowd were hugely supportive and there was lots of music playing and distractions on the way around to keep me from thinking about my aching calves!
I finished the run in a little over an hour and raised a total of £195 though online and offline donations, with gift aid. Having the personal link to the charity and experience of the volunteering really helps when asking for donations. To any other mentors thinking of fundraising for RSN, I would say go for it!!
"I'm a teacher. I mainly teach ESOL to adults, but I do a few hours a week teaching on our 16-18 programme, and I also teach English Functional Skills; and I'm a CELTA trainer. I work at Ealing, Hammersmith & West London College (EHWLC). I'm based at our Barons Court campus.
"Several of our 16-18 ESOL students receive support from RSN, and when a colleague forwarded an email about running the North London Half Marathon for RSN, I jumped at the chance. I guess also I was affected by the refugee crisis in the news at the moment: other friends have volunteered, and I guess I was looking for some way to do something, I am quite fit and sporty, but I've never run 21km before.
"Until last week, my training was going really well, and I'd set myself a target of 1hr30; but I think my pace will ultimately depend on if I can shake off this injured calf injury!”
"My name’s Hannah Towler and I’m a student in my final year at Sheffield.
"For the last two years I’ve been meaning to run the Yorkshire Half Marathon and I’ve decided that now is the time! I’ve only ever run 5 miles a few times before so it will most definitely be a challenge! I'm raising money for Refugee Support Network in recognition of the work they've done helping people close to me and my family.
"2 years ago my foster brother was forcibly removed to Afghanistan. He'd been part of our family for 3 years and it was heartbreaking for us, as well as incomprehensible that he should be sent back at all. RSN doesn’t want to give up on young people like him. They’re monitoring what happens to those who have been sent back to Kabul and are offering support to other unaccompanied teenagers like my brother who face uncertain futures when they turn 18. "I’m running the Half Marathon so that more young people like my brother will get the help and support they need at one of the most difficult times of their life."
John ran the 70km SainteLyon race which has something of a cult following amongst runners and outdoors enthusiasts, as athletes journey from Saint-Etienne to Lyon via The Monts Du Lyonnais, over a half road, half trail course with a 1300m uphill incline, 1700m downhill decline, and peaks of 850m altitude. All this is done overnight, and in the snowy conditions of a wintery Eastern France. John told us:
"I love running! And I am still alive!! And I have to say I am so glad to have run this SainteLyon race, despite a number of factors that probably weren't in favour of its enjoyment factor. Stomach issues, possibly the wrong shoes and people are now saying that the conditions were the hardest they have had in recent years in terms of cold, icy (think: slippy−slidy) conditions − I must have fallen 6 or 7 times, with many more acrobatics to prevent others!
"The cold also affected hydration − on two separate sections of over 10k, I was without water, even though I could hear it sloshing in my pack, because my hydration tube froze! But there was a great atmosphere! Imagine the excitement as 12,000 head torches bob up and down at the start−line in preparation for the starter−horn, or miles of little lights snaking their way up a mountainside, it was impossible not to think of Lord of the Rings!
"As I crossed the finish line, the emotions were really intense, and I collapsed into tears for several minutes. Tears of joy, a sense of achievement, but also at disbelief at just how far and long it had all been!
"One of the things I had been worried about was gaining too little (or no!) support for Refugee Support Network because of my poor organisation in getting the word out! But support from people has been really good and I am so grateful. This was definitely a tough physical challenge, probably the hardest I have ever faced, but it shows how friends and family really are willing to get behind people who are up for that. This challenge is over for me, thank goodness, but the refugees' one is ongoing. Thanks for the support."
And that's not to mention all these others who ran the North London half marathon for us in 2015!
“I'm Sarah R, I'm 26 years old and live in Brixton. I'm an actress involved in various fringe theatre, work for a fin-tech start-up and volunteer for the refugee charity Breaking Barriers. My interests include theatre, travelling, horse riding and avocados. I'm really excited for the challenge of running my first half marathon because running is also something I love, but specifically for the Refugee Support Network because it's a brilliant cause and they're an awesome organisation!”
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“I'm Sarah J, am from Mississippi, moved to London 7 1/2 years ago to complete my Masters in History of Art at Sotheby's. I have been with Gagosian Gallery for nearly 5 years. I am also currently in training to become a yoga instructor with TriYoga. I am a new runner, but really love it and am so happy to be running for Refugee Support Network.
The current refugee crisis is completely heartbreaking and I really want to do all I can to support those who have been displaced. I could not be happier to be running my first half marathon in support of RSN.”
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“My name's Becky, I'm 25 and I work as the West London Coordinator for Near Neighbours, a grassroots interfaith organisation. Running the North London Half Marathon will be my second race; I ran the London Marathon last year for Mind, the mental health charity. I am excited to run for RSN because I think their work is so vital for young people arriving in the UK. I first heard about them through my friend Carolyn (who works there!) and was really inspired to see the difference they make.
At a time when refugees are in the news every day, it's great to see an organisation positively supporting young people to achieve their potential despite some very challenging experiences.”
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“My name's Taylor, I'm 24 and from Cincinnati, OH. I ran my first half marathon in Cincinnati in 2013. Currently, I live in London while studying MA Photojournalism and Documentary Studies at London College of Communication. I knew I wanted to run a half marathon while living in London so when I was given the opportunity to raise money for RSN, I decided to run the Vitality North London Half Marathon.
The most meaningful opportunities I have had arose from interactions I had through my own experience in education. Education was a way for her to open doors to opportunities and experiences that would have been inaccessible otherwise. I hope that by running this half marathon and raising money for RSN, refugee children can get the same chances and opportunities that an education gave me.”
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“My name's Chris and I discovered RSN when I was doing some online reading about the issues young refugees can face accessing education in the UK. The aims of RSN and the direct way in which they provide support, resonated with me so I decided to apply to become a volunteer mentor. As a teacher, I know the important role education can play in empowering young people, allowing them to have more control over their futures. I am running the half-marathon because I thought it would be a good way to contribute to the fundraising efforts of RSN whilst raising more awareness of their work and the issues young refugees face.”
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“I'm Megan and I work for a social integration charity called The Challenge, working with young people across North London to get them involved in volunteering in their local communities after they've completed one of our youth programmes. I love working with young people, and I love seeing them succeed in the things they want to do.
I believe that access to education is a really key part of equipping young people with the skills they need to succeed, and of course that applies to those who are undergoing a journey of migration. I'm hoping to help support (in a very small way) young refugees' and migrants' access to education through fundraising for RSN and raising awareness of the work you do!”
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"I'm Nora, a French expatriate in London and have been living here for over 7 years. I initially came to study political science as Ive got a passion for international affairs ( my major) I also love traveling and connecting with other civilisations..This marathon is really a first for me, I wanted to do it because I care about the plight of refugees and I'd love to translate this interest into a career perspective some day. I have been to Lebanon (visited Palestinian refugee camps) and Calais camps with friends to assist with immediate support. Fundraising for you RSN felt just so natural."