Published on 04 May 2021
Covering a distance of more than 2,299,172 steps, the Occupational Therapy students and staff at the University of Sunderland teamed up virtually over April to raise money for St Benedicts’ Hospice. They smashed the goal by April 17, so decided to walk the distance back. To date they’ve managed to raise £400.
As well as the physical benefits of the challenge, the students say walking the length of Great Britain has had a great impact on their own mental wellbeing following the lockdown measures, giving them a positive focus, sense of achievement and being part of a team.
First year student Claire Davison, from Durham, is part of the University’s Occupational Therapy Society, which came up with the idea for the charity walk. “I immediately wanted to take part,” says Claire. “I’ve personally struggled during lockdowns and throughout the Covid 19 pandemic with all the restrictions and isolation it brought. To try and build a little resilience I have been setting myself monthly challenges, usually physical ones. The Land’s End to John O’Groats walk fitted in perfectly. For me it became the challenge I could complete for myself, an opportunity to raise money for an excellent cause and a chance to be part of a team effort.”
Claire says she already enjoyed walking and was able to meet her target with her children by her side or just on her own.
She added: “For me, Covid 19 further highlighted how important community spirit is; how important it is to be aware of the needs of others and how many people were struggling with far greater challenges than I was. Sometimes everyone will need a little extra help and St Benedict's Hospice does this at a very important time. Getting involved in raising money for them just made sense. I was really pleased to be part of it.”
St Benedict’s Hospice in Sunderland offers free care, advice and support for patients, and their families, who have a life-limiting illness.
Emma Moore, also a First year Occupational Therapy student, from Seaham, was delighted to be able to raise money for the hospice, she said: “When I heard the Society wanted to do a walking challenge to raise money for St Benedict's Hospice I was filled with both delight and dread. I have been shielding and this gave me an opportunity to do something, but also do it for a good cause.
“I have been tracking my progress on Twitter - the good and the bad! I'm not the most fit or active but I took on the challenge knowing that I probably won't make a massive dent in the step count but knowing that people will be donating to this amazing place because of what we are doing as a society.”
Occupational Therapy Programme Leader, Cath Turner, who also took part in the challenge, said: “Our students have been keen to consider the positive impact of exercise on their health & well-being, especially during this difficult time.
“By joining together, they have supported and encouraged each other as well as raising funds for the hospice.”