Popularity of sporting challenges means youngsters get the help they need

Lake District from the clouds

Thanks to more people signing up for sporting challenges youngsters in Cumbria, and parts of the north of England, are getting the help they need. 

Ambleside based youth charity, Brathay Trust, supports 7,000 young people every year, including those in the Barrow and Furness area and Sheffield, Bradford and Wigan. 

They say a record 4000 people signed up for their running, rowing and cycling challenges this year raising £320,000 to fund their work with disadvantaged youngsters. They could be struggling at school, at risk of sexual exploitation or in, or leaving, care. Brathay help young people to reach their potential by focussing on skills, attitudes and behaviours as well as employability and resilience. The charity says young people are then empowered to make active choices that benefit them, and the people around them.

Between May and December this year Brathay organised 10 events in the central Lakes including their oldest, the 13-year-old ASICS Windermere Marathon and, their newest – an ultra-trail race, the Ambleside Trail 60. Whilst seven events were for runners, there was a cycling challenge and two events for teams combining running with rowing.

Brathay also offer gold bond places in the London Marathon and ask walkers to raise funds through a Cross Bay Walk and a Three Peaks Challenge.

And this year people joined Joss Naylor MBE on his personal challenge to complete a fell race he failed to finish in his 20s, the 1962 Lake District Mountain Trial. The 83-year-old is an active supporter and Patron of Brathay’s annual 10 marathons in 10 days challenge.

Charities must innovate to fund their work, says Brathay’s head of fundraising Scott Umpleby.

"The whole sector continues to face challenges in raising enough money to provide a service to those in need. Unrestricted funding is particularly important as we can allocate that to where the needs are greatest or the most urgent. The majority of funds raised through our events can be used in this way.

“Since 2006 we have been building a reputation for professionally run and exceptional life-changing challenges for corporate groups and individuals. It’s a competitive market, in that time there has been a 700% increase in the number of UK fundraising events, yet our events are well supported.

"When we ask people why they take part they say they are well organised, they feel looked after and our work resonates with them. This has given us the confidence to try new running events and to continue with our tried and tested ones. The growth in entries for our marathon is bucking national trends, and next year our 10in10 challenge is the largest it has been since it started 12 years ago,” added Scott Umpleby.

Brathay’s Head of Fundraising is also adamant that the events would not happen without local business support and the help of over 200 volunteers who act as marshals, operate water stations, man stalls, stands and car parks. There’s even a team of sports therapy students from the University of Cumbria who provide individual support over 10 days to those doing Brathay’s 10in10.

The charity is banking on 2020 being another record-breaking year.

For details of their challenge events visit: https://www.brathaychallenges.com/