Swindon & District Samaritans is encouraging people to sign up to Samarathon.
Participants are asked to set themselves the challenge of walking, jogging or running the equivalent of a marathon distance during July, helping the charity’s volunteers continue to provide vital emotional support.
Listening volunteers at the Swindon & District branch are encouraging everyone to make the most of the long summer days after months of lockdown by getting active and being out in nature, which is known to help boost physical and mental wellbeing.
Participants can choose how, when and where they complete their marathon – and can sign up alongside friends and family, cheering each other on either in person or remotely.
Volunteer Branch Director at Swindon & District Samaritans Susie Higgs said: “Samarathon provides a great opportunity to get active and enjoy spending time outdoors which is more important than ever during the pandemic.
"It is also a real boost to our volunteers, who have been providing emotional support to those who are struggling to cope during these challenging times.
“The pandemic has significantly hampered our ability to fundraise over the past 12 months. Taking part in this challenge is not only a fun way to look after your own mental health and wellbeing but will allow us to support others who are struggling with theirs."
Participants include Fiona, who signed up to Samarathon last year to help the Swindon & District Samaritans branch after being a listening volunteer for five years.
She said: “Samarathon was a great opportunity to further support our amazing branch through the difficult times we were facing. Although we are listening to those who need a safe place to talk, as volunteers we also benefit from being there for others. It’s just a great role!
“A new puppy and a need to get into the countryside for exercise made it easy, and Myrtle loved running alongside me – we made a great team whilst raising funds to help our local branch.”
Kirstie joined Swindon & District Samaritans over a year ago at the start of the pandemic and was part of the first group to go through a new virtual training programme.
This was set up to ensure the organisation was able to continue to provide first class training despite lockdown constraints.
Kirstie has signed up to complete Samarathon 2021, saying: “Samarathon is an excellent reason to get my running groove on, not only to raise money for a fantastic charity and branch but also encouraging exercise and being outside in nature which only does good things for my overall ‘joie de vivre’.”
Kirstie's fundraising page is https://samarathon.samaritans.org/fundraising/kirstie115
Three UK is the official sponsor of Samarathon, and has pledged to work with Samaritans to expand services and help more people access emotional support, 24/7, 365 days a year.
Further information about Samarathon www.samaritans.org/samarathon