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Putting their best feet forward to help the homeless

Jake Hall (pictured left), business development director of full service marketing agency Interdirect, which is leading the event, discusses the trials and tribulations of planning and organising such a big charity event.  

How did the charity walk come about?

The event was the brainchild of Nicholas Mann (right), our MD, supported by Simon Demaid of regional law firm Howes Percival. They were both at a talk by David Foster, chief executive of The Parks Trust, at a recent Midsummer Breakfast Club networking meeting in Milton Keynes.

David gave a presentation about the fantastic work of The Parks Trust and the new 25-mile challenge walk that had recently been established.

Nicholas devised the idea and quickly got Howes Percival and Milton Keynes College on board to help plan and organise the event.

Why homelessness in Milton Keynes?

Homelessness in Milton Keynes is a hot topic at the moment with reports that the city has the third highest homeless population in the South East.

We had learned that the Milton Keynes Community Foundation wanted to set up a brand new city fund exclusively to support the most vulnerable people in our city but needed the initial investment to get it off the ground. 

Interdirect has always been an avid supporter of the MK Community Foundation and all the work they do for the local community, so with this in mind it felt like the right cause to support.  

Who is organising the walk?

We are organising the event with the help of Howes Percival and Milton Keynes College – we have worked well together as a team bringing different knowledge and skills to the group.  Milton Keynes Community Foundation have also been a great support, with their expertise and experience in the intricacies of organising an event of this nature.

What’s involved?

Planning a charity walk isn’t as easy as it sounds. Having not organised an event of this type and scale before, it felt like a daunting task at the beginning as there is lots to take into consideration.  

The first thing was to obtain permission to use the route from The Parks Trust, obtain liability insurance for the event, and also carry out a risk assessments of the route.  Then we had to consider the logistics of the day. Because the route isn’t circular we had to plan how to transport a large number of people from one end of Milton Keynes to the other – a local coach firm, Marshalls Coaches has kindly offered their transportation services in support of the event.  

Getting other businesses and people on board with the event was of the upmost importance in order to raise the necessary £5,000 target for the City Fund.

We have also had to enrol volunteers to help with marshalling and first aid to make sure that walkers don’t get lost on route and there is also help on hand should anyone need it.

The route was already planned and plotted out by The Parks Trust, but we have walked and cycled the route a couple of times to ensure we know where we are going on the day and so we are fully aware of what we are letting ourselves in for!   

Clear instructions to all participants have been particularly important so that everyone knows where to be and when. Getting over 70 people to start and finish at the same time will be a challenge in itself!

Does walking 25 miles make you nervous?

Yes! Even though I have walked and cycled the route on a couple of occasions in training, 25 miles is a long way and it is no easy task. After the first training walk, I soon learned that good walking socks and blister plasters are vital if I am to complete the course!

Which businesses have accepted the challenge and will be walking with you on the day?

We have had a great response and there are some really influential businesses joining us on the day and supporting the cause. Xero, Grant Thornton, Fibrefab, PJ Care and Mirus IT will be walking, as well as teams from Interdirect, Milton Keynes College and Howes Percival.

We are thankful to everyone who has accepted the challenge and have raised vital funds for such a good cause, we are looking forward to walking with them on the day.  

What can participants expect on the day?

Although it’s going to be a long hard walk, people taking part can expect lots of fresh air and fun!  The walk is likely to take between 10 – 12 hours to complete so there is plenty of opportunity for everyone to get to know their fellow walkers.

What are you looking forward to the most?

Raising the profile of the new City Fund and enjoying the beautiful parks, woodlands and fields of Milton Keynes.

To add your sponsorship, visit https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/25milewalkchallenge 

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