It’s back! On Saturday 15th July you can take part in our flagship fundraising event, YMCA DownsLink Challenge, a 17.5 mile sponsored walk along the beautiful Downs Link Pathway (from Horsham to Shoreham), knowing every step will help change young lives.
Last year more than 100 of our supporters, staff and residents stepped out to help raise awareness of the issue of youth homelessness and raise money to help us support other young people in crisis. The money raised by the event goes towards providing holistic, wrap-around, care for young people facing homelessness. We want to break the cycle of disadvantage that can begin when young people lose their home, family and support network, at this crucial stage of their lives.
Many of the young people who are given a safe home with us have faced significant challenges in their short lives. Staff get to know them individually and work hard to rebuild their trust in adults and build a positive relationship with them. Once this is established they can get them the help they need, whether it is emotional or practical. They work with the young person to help them back onto the path that’s right for them, such as education, training, or employment.
Last year, Josh, a resident in 24-hour accommodation, was encouraged to take part in the challenge. At 19, Josh faced homelessness due to issues at home. He’d lost his confidence and was struggling. When he was given a home with us he began to rebuild his self-esteem. His keyworker encouraged him to get involved in the DownsLink Challenge and it proved to be a turning point. Although it’s not a race, he was one of the first to cross the finish line and was bursting with pride at his achievement.
Josh has since moved into semi-independent living, is working full-time, and has stepped up to become a Youth Ambassador for the national YMCA federation. Having received so much support from us he wants to ‘give back’ and raise awareness of what we do, so that we can help more young people like him.
“The YMCA have helped me so much, I just want other people to get the support I have had. I felt so proud of myself when I did the challenge, I never thought I could walk 17 miles, but I did it and felt so happy with myself. I’m now doing all sorts of things I never thought I would. Without the YMCA I wouldn’t be where I am today.”
By taking part in the DownsLink Challenge you can help give another young person, like Josh, a second chance. Every night we give over 650 young people a safe home. We are facing an unprecedented rise in need, which, coupled with the cost-of-living crisis, is why your support is vitally important. So, why not get involved. You can walk alone or with a group of friends or colleagues. Registration is just £20 which covers our costs and if you can’t walk why not sponsor someone else or donate. Click here for more information.
Read more about our impact on young people here.