Just to be clear my name is Robert Jamieson, not Runbert Jogmyson. I just wanted to punnify my name! Anyway...
It’s around this time of year the donation requests start flooding in… We all know someone (be they a friend, family member, or colleague) who has decided to take on the 26.2 mile challenge provided by the London Marathon. So what’s different about my story? Is it down to the fact that I am still cheerfully maintaining my 15-a-day smoking habit? Or the fact that until Boxing Day I had undertaken little to no meaningful exercise for a number of years?
Maybe – but the real reason I think that I may be different than my 50,000 fellow runners is the cause that I am running for. Now, that’s not to say I don’t wholeheartedly support some of the amazing charities and causes that the majority of those taking part will be busting a gut to help.
I’ve worked for an organisation called Community Southwark for the past two years now. A simple explanation as to what we do: we support the voluntary and community sector (VCS) in Southwark in a range of ways – anything from development support, funding applications, good governance and finance, and at a local and national policy level. We look to champion the amazing and diverse charity sector that Southwark has.
But it doesn’t stop there. Anyone with experience working for a charity knows that the funding situation has been pretty bleak in recent years as traditional funding sources begin to shrink – ostensibly due to cuts to local government.
Which is why we need to start thinking creatively and differently about how the VCS is sustained.
There are still great inequalities
That’s where Southwark Giving comes in – the ultimate reason for me running the London Marathon! Southwark Giving is a place-based giving scheme that will innovatively address hidden, unmet and emerging community needs in Southwark. This will bring people together from different sectors and provide opportunities for people to give their time, skills and/or money.
Despite Southwark’s thriving Voluntary and Community sectors there are still great inequalities, impacting on the health and wellbeing of our communities that need targeted support to change.
We have commissioned some research that has shown that due to these inequalities throughout the borough the conclusion is that there are two Southwarks – one where people have better life chances and one when they have worse. Read the report ‘A Tale of Two Southwarks’ to get an idea of what that means.
In my time at Community Southwark I have encountered some fantastic charities and community groups – the fact that some of these will ultimately benefit from my endeavours makes it all worth while.
I have vowed to pack in the cigarettes
But how has the experience been? As I’ve mentioned my first run was on a chilly boxing day morning (accompanied by more than a slight hangover). Nothing shouts ‘FESTIVE CHEER’ more than a four mile slog in cold – although at least I did get to try out my new leggings…
The first few weeks were the hardest. Due to a lack of fitness and frosty conditions there wasn’t anything remotely fun about having to stick to a training schedule. But as the weeks gradually wore on and the days started to get warmer, the possibility of getting to a point where I could be confident in completing the race started to become a reality.
Until I got injured that is – like many others who are taking on this challenge. £200 worth of physio and chiropractor appointments later – and nearly a month off of steady training – I was able to get back on the horse (so to speak). The average pace dropped (on medical advice) and the recuperation became even more important (lots of ice and ibuprofen). But I have managed to get myself (4 days to go) where I feel reasonably confident that I will be able to complete the race in 4.5 hours. This mindset has been helped immeasurably by being able to complete a 20 mile run last week.
The next few days will be spent trying to get my head around how mentally and physically challenging a day Sunday will be. I have vowed to pack in the cigarettes at least a couple of days before the race (I’m pretty sure Mo Farah does something similar) and beer is off limit – at least until around 30 minutes after I’ve finished!
Wish me luck!
If you want to find out more about Southwark Giving you can visit the website here.
If any of this has inspired you to put your hands into your pockets you can donate here.