CLICK TO LISTEN TO TOM AND PAUL CHATTING ABOUT THEIR CHALLENGE
The Chief Executive of the Good Shepherd and a long-serving key worker are teaming up for a 50-mile fundraising challenge to mark the charity’s Golden Anniversary – which will be topped off at the end by climbing Snowdon!
CEO Tom Hayden and Housing First worker Paul Burns will be walking from Wrexham to Snowdonia from May 17-19, followed by taking on the 3,560 feet of Wales’ highest mountain the following day.
Half a century on from the Little Brothers of the Good Shepherd first arriving to help people experiencing homelessness within the city of Wolverhampton, the intrepid duo are aiming to raise £1,250 to support the charity’s Family Food Pantry, a figure which is enough to feed 50 families for one week or one family for 50 weeks.
And today, with 50 days to go, is the perfect time to announce the challenge to raise funds for a cause which is very close to their hearts.
“The family food pantry has become such an important part of our service, and last week alone we supported almost 100 families,” says Tom.
“Just looking at some recent statistics, West Midlands has the highest rate of fuel poverty in England and Wolverhampton is among the worst seven areas of the country when it comes to living in fuel poverty.
“Over 20 per cent of the city’s residents are living in fuel poverty and that is even before the cost of living increases have really kicked in.
“Behind every single one of those statistics is a household – it’s a family struggling, mum and dad doing their best to keep their heads above water, children not being fed properly.
“As a parent myself I can’t begin to imagine how it feels having to look at your children and know you haven’t got enough food for them.
“My Mum was a single mum growing up looking after myself and my sister, working a couple of jobs and balancing childcare so I know what it is like when you maybe haven’t got the resources.
“With our Family Food pantry we are able, with the help of the community, to provide children with the opportunity to enjoy healthy, balanced meals with fresh ingredients along with the odd treat from time to time!”
“When I first came over to this country from Ireland, my family struggled financially,” adds Paul.
“If the Good Shepherd had been available for where we were, my mum would definitely have been in that queue.
“The motivation for both of us with this fundraising is to try and help families in this position, and the Food Pantry has been such a great addition to the Good Shepherd because it is like a little shop where they can come and pick their own food rather than be handed a parcel.
“It is like a little community for the families and is so important to ensure that they are able to get a weekly supply of healthy food.”
Whilst knowing the walk is going to be gruelling, both are looking forward to the experience, with Tom citing fitness and the great outdoors as so important for mental health and wellbeing.
And for Paul, who works closely with people who have experienced homelessness and related complex issues, walking has become part of his daily routine.
“I think walking is so therapeutic, and provides a completely different experience to being in an office and sitting there talking to someone,” he explains.
“When I walk with our service users who are going through difficult times, I find they tend to open up more and express themselves more and when they do that it gives us a real opportunity to be able to discover what they need and provide the relevant support.”
The walk is one of several events taking place during the 50th anniversary year, both to raise funds to ensure the Good Shepherd can continue to deliver its services, and awareness of the range of support the charity provides.
“There will be many different motivations pushing us on during the challenge but certainly right up there amongst them will be celebrating 50 years of the continuing legacy of the Brothers since they first arrived in Wolverhampton in 1972,” adds Tom.
“When you look at everything they have achieved in helping people – and we are delighted to have Brother William, Brother Stephen and Brother Charles still heavily involved with the Good Shepherd – taking on a challenge like this is an honour in terms of continuing to carry the torch and push it forward into the future.”
- To support Tom and Paul in their 50th anniversary challenge, you can make a fundraising donation on their page by clicking here.