Eddie Izzard and Sally Gunnell OBE, Support YMCA DownsLink Challenge - YMCA DownsLink Group

Eddie Izzard and Sally Gunnell OBE, Support YMCA DownsLink Challenge

Eddie Izzard

We are delighted to have secured the support of local comedian, campaigner and marathon runner extraordinaire Eddie Izzard for our YMCA DownsLink Challenge fundraising event. She joins Olympic gold medallist Sally Gunnell OBE in encouraging people to walk or run 16 miles (or 36 for those after a bigger challenge) on Saturday 17 July along the beautiful Downs Link pathway.

You can view Eddie Izzard’s message of support below:

Money raised by the event will go towards funding our work to both tackle and prevent youth homelessness right across Sussex and Surrey.
The Downs Link Pathway, which is a disused railway line, links Surrey to Sussex (Guildford to Shoreham by Sea) and is how we got our name. 

YMCA DLG CEO Chas Walker explains how the fundraised income will support our work: “This past year has been tough for everyone, but for many young people, already on the margins of society, it has been devastating. Young people, particularly those in low paid or gig economy jobs, have felt the economic impact of the pandemic already and many are struggling to afford the basics, such as food & rent. We’ve also seen a huge rise in the number of young people presenting as homeless due to an increase in family conflict. Despite increasing the capacity of our family mediation service, we have long waiting lists. And, most worryingly, we’ve seen a huge increase in the severity of the mental health issues presenting in our young residents and those coming to our Youth Advice Centres (YAC). Money raised by events such as YMCA DownsLink Challenge, will go towards sustaining and increasing our provision for those local young people most in need.” 

After such a long lockdown winter, we are hoping that people will be keen to use this event as an opportunity to get out with friends or family into the beautiful countryside, in a safe and Covid secure way. The event has been organised to ensure it complies with all Covid safety measures and anyone wanting to walk as a group are being asked to keep the number to six. Participants can choose whether to walk or run the 16 miles from Horsham to Shoreham, or for anyone feeling super fitor wanting a bigger challenge, there is an option to do the full 36 miles from Guildford to Shoreham. Everyone is being asked to raise a minimum of £50 but anyone raising over £150 will be entered into a prize draw to win a hamper of ‘goodies’ 

For anyone unable to join on the day or wanting to take on a challenge a bit closer to home, there is also the option to do a challenge in your own area and in your own time. Have a look at our suggested alternative routes throughout Sussex (East Sussex / West Sussex / Brighton & Hove and Guildford).  

Registration is just £10 which covers the cost of putting on the event and includes a branded T-shirt and finisher’s medal.  

Click HERE to sign up or for more information.

To find out more about our work or how we tackle the root causes of youth homelessness have a look at our blog section. Every night we provide a safe home to 763 young people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. But, more than ‘just a room’ we give them a sense of family, a structured environment and the support of 1 to 1 key workers to help rebuild their trust in adults. Our mission is to put every young person we support back on a path to independence. As well as the basic life skills they need (budgeting, cooking etc) we also help them get back into education, training or work. We give them a second chance.


YMCA enables people to develop their full potential in mind, body and spirit. Inspired by and faithful to our Christian values, we create supportive, inclusive and energising communities, where young people can truly belong, contribute and thrive.

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