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Charity workers take on Westminster to Walton bike ride to MAYke A Difference

3 weeks ago

Charity workers take on Westminster to Walton bike ride to MAYke A Difference

It’s been a while since friends and workmates Lee Collins and Rich Jones have been on their bikes, but they’ve been persuaded to get back in the saddle for a 216-mile cycle trek from Westminster to Walton.

The pair are taking on the challenge next week as part of St Andrew’s Community Network’s MAYke A Difference campaign.

And Lee, 36, from Broadgreen, says as well as raising funds for the charity which runs the North Liverpool Foodbank along with community food pantries across the city, they’ll raise awareness of the food poverty, debt, and other problems many people face.

“We wanted to do something that was a big challenge. We’re both historically keen cyclists, and we wanted to do something that would get people involved,” he explains.

“We chose Westminster to Walton because it’s probably going to be an election year and we can highlight the impact of poverty across communities to the powers that be, and the disconnect between them.

MAYke A Difference
Lee is supported by others at St Andrew’s Community Network

“It’s highlighting some of the systemic structural issues that cause poverty and food insecurity, and problems with debt and other things.”

St Andrew’s CEO Rich, 40, from Manchester, says the bike ride will challenge his physical and mental capacity: “It’s been almost a decade since I was part of a challenge of this scale, so it will certainly be a test!”

But it’s one he is looking forward to: “We believe in the life-changing work that our colleagues and hundreds of incredible volunteers are engaged in every day. This challenge is designed to raise both awareness of that work, and finance to support its continuation.”

Pantry co-ordinator Lee has been less inclined to ride since an accident two years ago, when he was knocked off his bike on Queen’s Drive on his way home from work: “I’ve not been cycling as much since, so this is a chance to get back on the bike – and convince family members that it’s okay!”

Lee and Rich will head to London next Wednesday before setting on the two-day trial.

On Thursday, May 16, they aim to travel 120 miles from London to Birmingham, and on Friday, May 17, they plan to complete the remaining 96 miles from there to Walton. They’ll pass through the Queensferry Tunnel shortly after 8pm on the Friday evening and finish near Anfield Stadium shortly after.

“It’s been one of those things we jumped into, thinking we’ll easily do this,” smiles Lee. “We’ve done the odd long ride, but it is going to be a challenge for us.  We’ve done about 70-80 miles so far, but that’s probably once a week or with a few days in between, we haven’t done two rides back-to-back.

“But hopefully the support we’ll get from each other, and adrenaline, will take us through … along with knowing why we’re doing it.”

As well as running North Liverpool Foodbank and a network of community food pantries across the city, St Andrew’s Community Network provides free debt and welfare benefits advice to hundreds of people every year in its mission to set people free from poverty. 

Last year, the charity supported more than 14,000 people – including 4,913 children – through its foodbanks; and its money advice teams were busier than ever, as need for the support they provide continues to rise throughout the city.

MAYke A Difference
Lee Collins gets ready to train for the 216-mile trek

Fundraising events like this and others being carried out this month, are vital, says Charlotte Moorcroft, fundraising and communications officer: “‘Our MAYke A Difference campaign came about through our desire to continue to support people in our communities, and wanting to involve our community as much as possible in the work we do and the support we offer. 

“The Westminster to Walton Cycle is a huge challenge, and one we hope will help us raise essential funds to continue our vital work as well as spread the word about the services we offer. 

“The support of everyone getting involved in both the cycle event and all the other events going on throughout the month is crucial, and we are so grateful to everyone who’s getting behind the campaign.”

Lee adds: “We are facing a challenge that we have chosen. A lot of people are facing challenges that they haven’t.

“One thing that we find through the work we do is that communities come together to help one another, and this is another part of that and looking out for each other.”

You can find out more about the Westminster to Walton challenge, keep up to date with Lee and Rich’s progress and donate to support MAYke A Difference on their JustGiving page here.

Find out the latest in Liverpool here.

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