Marathons ‘easy’ compared to being a refugee
A Norwich volunteer will be running a marathon from and to her own doorstep to celebrate 40 years of the London Marathon and to raise money for English +. Kerry Brighouse explains what is motivating her.
We often hear of the arduous journeys that so many men, women, children are forced to make to flee their home and seek safety in a new country. For most, this is just the beginning of that journey. Too often those who have to seek asylum or become refugees have to navigate many new challenges and face a new life embedded in disadvantage.
The challenges that many of these people face can include permanent separation from friends and family; lives put on hold waiting for others to make descisions to determine their future; restrictions upon seeking work or losing their profession, trade and career; navigating life in an unfamiliar language and culutre; poverty; racism, digital exclusion; being vulnerable to exploitation.
English+ was founded in 2011 by Rosie Sexton from Holy Trinity Church Norwich. She set out to offer free English classes to people new to Norwich who were struggling to adjust to life here due to their lack of English. By offering free classes, friendship and community, with others from Trinity, she ensured a warm welcome to Norwich. Classes began with four students of one nationality and today (normally) the charity runs five classes per week supporting over 150 people from over 30 nationalities.
We can all play a part in welcoming and supporting those who have arrived in Norwich and are rebuilding their lives. One way in which we can support them is by raising money for our local charities, such as English+.
In October 2018 I received the ‘London Marathon You’re In’ magazine after numerous entries into the ballot. In 2019, a few weeks before the marathon, I had to pull out due to a minor operation. In April 2020, after I had trained again, the marathon was postponed due to COVID-19. Once again I began training with the hope that the marathon would go ahead in October. Finally in August it was confirmed that a virtual marathon would take place on October 4, 2020 to celebrate 40 years of the London Marathon. I seized the opportunity to take part and to use my place to raise money to support the work of English+.
On Sunday October 4 I will run the London Marathon starting and finishing on my own doorstep. I have four friends who have volunteered to run one loop each with me and my three children will join me for the final 1.5 miles. For weeks and weeks I have been pounding the streets of Norwich with the gruelling increase in distance. My biggest motivator to get me out the door and to keep putting one foot in front of the other is reminding myself of why I’m running. I am running to help ensure that English+ can keep on pouring out love and welcoming those new to Norwich.
The current COVID-19 pandemic has brought about unprecedented difficulties for charities and for the individuals whose lives depend upon the support of these charities. It was estimated that the charity sector faced a loss of more than £4.3bn in the first 12 weeks of the pandemic. It has also been suggested that the charity sector has faced a ‘triple whammy’ during this season of severe financial restrictions, an increase in demand from those who rely on them day-to-day and restrictions upon support from those who volunteer.
English+ has continued to support those they serve throughout this pandemic and the team have faced many new challenges, such as trying to ensure inclusion in this new digital world where technology is paramount in any learning and community.
I have decided to do something I love to help support something I am passionate about. Running 26.2 miles is ‘easy’ in comparison to the challenges that 2020 has brought to the English+ team and the people that they support. This is what I will remind myself of with every aching muscle, blister and tear that I shed on the October 4.
Why not join me by helping me to raise money for English+ and support those that they care for:
Pictured above are Kerry Brighouse (left) and Rosie Sexton (right)