Samaritans volunteers are inviting walkers to join them on a ‘Coast to Coast’ challenge across the North of England this July, to raise vital funds and help combat loneliness and isolation.
The route stretches through some of England’s most picturesque villages, lakes, mountains and moors, from St Bee’s Head in the West of Cumbria to Robin Hood’s Bay in Whitby on Yorkshire’s East coast. Walkers can sign up for one or more of the 16 legs of the route, including a night walk on 24 July to reflect the 24/7 nature of Samaritans’ emotional support services.
Feeling lonely or isolated is one of the most common concerns people express when they call Samaritans.* It’s hoped the walk, which will wind through some of the UK’s most remote countryside, will help highlight the issue of loneliness, and raise thousands of pounds through sponsorship and donations.
The walk kicks off from St Bee’s Head at 9am on Saturday 14 July. The overnight walk begins at Reeth at 00:01 on Tuesday 24th July, reaching Richmond’s Market Square in Yorkshire at 8am. The final part of the challenge will conclude at Robin Hood’s Bay in Whitby at 6pm on Tuesday 30 July.
The difficulty of each leg varies, from moderate to very tough and mountainous, along 200 miles of footpaths, through three national parks. Whichever leg they choose, walkers will be welcomed by friendly Samaritans volunteers from branches across Cumbria, Durham, Northumbria, Tyneside and Teeside, with an experienced walk leader and a first aider also part of each team.
Samaritans volunteer Margaret Horrocks is one of the organisers: “We want to give a warm welcome to as many people as possible who want to join us to raise funds. We hear so many stories of loneliness and isolation. It’s so important to keep Samaritans’ services going for anyone who may be feeling overwhelmed, but especially at a time when it’s estimated that one person a week is losing their life to suicide in the UK’s rural communities. Come and join us. Every step could help save a life.”
Many celebrities are lending their support and wishing the walkers well. Broadcaster and author Sir Michael Parkinson CBE, who was born in Barnsley, Yorkshire, said: “The work undertaken by Samaritans is increasingly important to support a growing number of troubled people who find themselves lonely and isolated through no fault of their own. It is vital we support their work and get behind their Coast to Coast fundraising challenge this summer. It’s a wonderful and worthwhile event.”
Secrets and Lies film actress, Brenda Blethyn OBE said: “For anyone who feels isolated, worried, distressed, or alone, Samaritans can be a life-saver. Please support their Coast to Coast fundraising walk to help raise essential funds so they can continue this life-saving work. It’s important people know they can contact Samaritans for free at any time. A very worthy cause.”
Registration is free but participants are asked to raise a minimum of £75 in sponsorship, allowing the charity to respond to around 15 calls for help from people who are struggling. Samaritans runs eight branches in the North of England and more than 200 across the UK and Ireland overall, recruiting, training and supporting volunteers and keeping its phone lines open to anyone for free who may be struggling. The funds raised will go directly to support Samaritans’ work in the North of England.
The Samaritans Coast to Coast is open for people to register and start raising money.
* Figures from Samaritans Contact Systems Data