The challenge saw the team of 14 exercise the equivalent number of light years from the Earth to the Polaris star and back, in miles, totalling 860 miles.
Just over two weeks into the challenge the team reached their target, through running, walking and cycling. The team carried on and within the month they reached an incredible 1,757 miles, more than double their original target, and a distance equivalent to travelling from London to Dalaman (Turkey).
Alongside this achievement, the team also raised £860 for the charity.
Blackfriars Settlement are Polaris’ chosen charity, who we have supported since 2019.
Their Positive Ageing group supports those who are 60+ of all abilities, living in the Lambeth and Southwark area. The group hold regular weekly meet ups at their centre and help keep their members active and social through a range of activities. Before lockdown the centre had club sessions and activities every day of the week except Saturday.
Since the coronavirus outbreak the charity had to close its doors, however their work did not stop. Volunteers and staff at the charity put together goodie bags containing essential items and delivered these to the members, they introduced a befriending service for volunteers to call members on a weekly basis for a friendly chat and delivered meals and shopping items out to those in need. The team have also started weekly exercise sessions, singing sessions and quizzes on zoom. Most of the members do not have internet or smart devices, so they also have the option to dial in by telephone. Dialing in also means their most vulnerable group, who are visually impaired feel included.
Because many of the members are still unable to leave their house, the Positive Ageing team will be preparing fresh, home cooked meals to deliver to vulnerable and isolated members, alongside goodie bags. The funds will help buy the ingredients for the meals and items for the goodie bags.
The centre re-opened at the end of July for short sessions welcoming back small groups of members. Strict safety guidelines and social distancing have been put in place. The money raised will go towards refreshments such as sandwiches, tea and cake for these sessions.
Sieglinde Cosia, a long standing Positive Ageing team member comments:
“Members have been so happy to come back to the Settlement and see their friends, the staff and volunteers. All the members enjoyed chatting with one another and the refreshments, which we were able to buy with your donations. Members were treated to tea/coffee and sandwiches, served with cake with ice cream. Thank you again for your fundraising event for our services.”
After re-opening the centre, many of the members texted thank you’s and sent in thank you cards. Here’s some comments from the members.
“Just to say thank you what you and your staff did today. You all worked so hard. Without Blackfriars Positive Ageing I don’t know what people would do without your support and your kindness. The sandwiches and cakes were delicious and much appreciated.”
“I enjoyed seeing everyone today. I had a lovely time and enjoyed the sandwiches. I felt safe and I didn’t want to go home.”
Since the start of lockdown Polaris volunteers have also been helping the charity with their befriending service by calling members on a weekly basis. The calls aim to prevent loneliness through friendly regular chats. The calls also provide an opportunity to see if the members need any help with their weekly shopping, which the charity facilitates.
So far the volunteers have made over 120 calls to members.
In February this year, the Polaris team held a kitchen takeover and provided afternoon entertainment for the Positive Ageing group.
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