In which I explain how you can help to end homelessness in Wales by supporting my slow cycle ride
TL;DR : I am using my Slow Cycle Around Wales to raise money for the brilliant charity Llamau. Skip the explanation and get straight to the giving-money action by clicking here.
Do we really need another charity fundraiser?
When I started talking to friends about my idea to cycle slowly around Wales, one of the most common questions was “Which charity are you doing it for?”
My initial response was that I was doing this for me, not for charity. I just want to ride my bike. I’ve got enough to worry about, I don’t need extra pressure. Basically, give me a break! That elicited a few different responses.
Some were relieved, clearly fatigued by the constant asks from runners and riders and sellers of cookies. Who needs another fundraiser!
Others were understanding, recognising that the motivation for the trip wasn’t about raising money (see previous blog post on motivation).
More than a few were not impressed: why would I pass up an opportunity to raise money / awareness for a good cause? Didn’t I understand how my privileged position could be used to serve others?
I’m not going to lie, this latter point hit home a bit. If I’ve learnt anything about philanthropy, it’s that the main reason people give money and time to charities is because someone asks them (Helen G knows what I mean). It was starting to feel a bit lazy to not use the Slow Cycle to do a little good in the world.
Probably the most valuable comment I got (from more than one wise friend) was: if you’re going to raise money for a charity, make sure it’s something that you care about.
Improving the lives of young people in Wales
Rubicon crossed, I knew that I wanted to support a charity focused on improving the lives of young people in Wales. Why?
I grew up in Rhyl, which was one of the most deprived towns in the UK in the 1970s and 1980s (when I was growing up) and sadly still is today. I’m not shitting on Rhyl. I think it has masses of potential and is filled with all kinds of lovely, clever, caring, and brilliant people. But…
For too many kids in Rhyl, life is hard, fragile, and filled with trauma. The economy is a shit-show. Aspirations and expectations for what you can achieve in life are far too low. Their parents are so busy dealing (or not dealing) with the consequences of their own childhood traumas that they struggle to parent well. It’s an epigenetic hot mess.
My experience was growing up in Rhyl, but I know there are towns and villages all over Wales that sing the same song.
If you’re lucky (and I was), you find love, support, and inspiration in your extended family and from good-hearted, generous people that you meet by chance as you tumble through life. Others aren’t so lucky and that’s where community organisations can play such a vital role.
So I was looking for a charity that worked with disadvantaged young people, ideally helping them develop their aspirations and skills. I decided to crowdsource some ideas from twitter.
From the responses to that tweet, I discovered 40 organisations working in communities all over Wales. I spent late nights in April and May reading websites and impact reports, scrolling through their social media accounts and watching their videos. I saw loads of examples of brilliant organisations doing heroic work to help kids in places like Rhyl, all over Wales. Humbling.
Imagining a world without homelessness
One name kept coming up and the more I looked into their work, the more impressed I was. They’re called Llamau.
Llamau is a charity based in Cardiff that works all over Wales to support young people and women who are at risk of homelessness.
They have a 30+ year track record of making a difference when it matters most. Working proactively to prevent homelessness, providing a safe place to live for those who sadly do become homeless, and helping those who have experienced it get back on their feet and chart a positive future.
You can read more about the brilliant work that Llamau does on their website or you could take my word for it and donate to support them by heading over to my Just Giving page. Every penny will make a difference and you’ll earn my eternal gratitude.
Just three weeks to go until I set off on this crazy adventure. If I’m honest, it’s still mostly for me, but I really hope that I can also use this trip to raise some awareness and money that can support Llamau’s crucial work.
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Rides since last post: three
18km. 49km. 57km.
In my defence, it’s only been a week since the last blog post and I have managed to catch covid (again).