Runvember started in 2013 and stemmed from the quest of one man and his running shoes. Running around in deepest, darkest November, where the weather quite often would drop below freezing and seeing countless people almost freezing to death was quite startling. I initially had the idea of running every day in November to raise money. Initially it was just myself, everybody said I was mad, to a certain extent they were right!
My only daughter suffers with epilepsy, in the first year we raised around £3500 pounds for FABLE (For a better life with Epilepsy). I was blown away by the generosity of people who donated, shocked by the amount of people who put forward money, I knew at this moment the power of social media, combined with an enigmatic leader, we could do something special. The next year, there were 25 of us running every day in November, with us competing in our own strava Group. All started off pounding the Ridgeway day after day, mile after mile. It was here that the term, “Runvember” was coined! What initially started as a bit of a laugh between mates, I had in my mind something bigger In the offing!
The next year we had 150 competitors, still in its infancy, anybody was welcome to run, walk, crawl, and swim for the 30 days of November, as long as they contributed to a local charity, “Christmas care”, a group run exclusively by volunteers over the Christmas period. I Was immensely proud of the amount of clothes that were donated, the only snag being, the clothes had to be stored somewhere… the living room of our house was commandeered as a makeshift storage facility, eventually these clothes would find their way into my work lock up, staying there a full calendar year before they found a new home. I was amazed by the turnout, the generosity; the event was a complete success. I was proud, ecstatic, amazed, I knew that Runvember 2016 had to be bigger and better. I set to work straight away, after a trip to Turkey; my long suffering wife had earned a break, and some time to see her husband again!
Runvember 2016 was bigger in every possible way. I used local businesses as sponsors, drummed up local media support, introduced various ways of getting people talking about the event, some sensible, some not – Onesie day, superhero day and of course, the annual, “swimwear Day” the latter proving to be rather troublesome when -2c outside! As November drew near, the numbers grew bigger and bigger, at first I put a cap on the number of people participating at 200, but the demand was such that was thrown out the window and how can you turn people away when at the end of the day it’s about getting vital supplies for those guys on the streets and those struggling with the ever increasing cost of living. Everybody wanted to be a part of the phenomenon! I was amazed by the number of people; 294 had signed up to take part. It was at this point I realised our living room was not going to be big enough, I approached Threshold, who I knew of through my local running club as we do an annual soup run to the hostel . A local charity that had been in Swindon for over 40 years who instantly provided me with the support and same level of enthusiasm I had to drive forward the project. They helped to devise the buying guide for what was required to go into the boxes and were crying out for help. I was more than happy to oblige. At the end of November 2016, we had 26 pallets with over 450 boxes stacked on them.!!!! I was blown away by the amazing response to my battle cry. The amount of boxes produced was such an enormous number, the storage previously thought to be enough had been exceeded; Employees of threshold were beginning to use their garages as temporary storage areas!
2017 saw the number of entries increase yet again and it exceeded 450 participants and over 900 boxes of food, bedding, clothing were sorted and distributed to the local homeless community and lots of camaraderie throughout the month with all the local clubs joining forces on scheduled soup runs and fancy dress themed runs.
Skip forward to 2018 and once more the people of Swindon came up trumps and pushed the bar even higher with over 500 runners, swimmers, cyclists and walkers signing up and spreading the word whilst gathering vital supplies for those that need it.
We also had participation from the RWB Girl Guides and RWB Academy
None of this would have been possible without my family, and without all who have taken part, everybody has been so generous in their praise of me, but truth be told, it’s not about me. It is about helping those on the streets keep warm, fed and watered and those who just need a helping hand in a time of crisis and tough economic times. I didn’t set out to do this for myself; I view it merely as my duty to help where I can. General feedback from Threshold, Night Shelter,Doorway,Julian House,St Mungos & Salisbury trust for the Homeless is that they truly are amazed by how much awareness and how much Runvember has helped in getting the charities into the community and recognised. An overwhelming success.
This year will see RunVEMBER work alongside The Swindon Food Collective and Threshold and provide food and provisions for 6,200 people in Swindon, 30% of these being children, and those who are now not fed by the hostels due to changes in how they operate. Swindon Food Collective’s Mission is to reduce the impact of food poverty on people in crisis in the Swindon and district area. With your help we aim to make the festive season a little easier for people in crisis this year.
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