This was an amazing opportunity for Southside as a small charity, based in a community that is often overlooked in Bath, to raise awareness about the needs of people in our local communities who face significant challenges that have been compounded by the Covid-19 crisis. Southside involves people with lived experience in every part of our organisation as equals and this was also an opportunity to shine the light on volunteers and staff who use their personal lived experience to support and inspire others experiencing or affected by trauma to build their wellbeing, safety and resilience with the right help at the right time.
Global’s Make Some Noise invited charities to nominate young people as #CharityChallengers to take on a special challenge during the week of 12th-19th June, supported by Heart Breakfast’s Jamie Theakston and Amanda Holden.
Kai Fletcher took on the challenge for Southside. He chose to retrace his steps to Southside to find help and support when he was a teenager, and walk eight miles there and back each morning for the five days, checking in live with Amanda and Jamie on Heart Breakfast en route.
Penny McKissock walked the eight miles with Kai each day and they were joined by Sharon Wiseman and Louise Harvey for a couple of the walks. We welcomed them in the rain at Meade House on the Friday with other Southside staff, volunteers and friends who have supported him along the way. Over £93,000 was raised by Jamie and Amanda’s Charity Challengers – and over £1.7million for the appeal.
Four months on, we asked Kai to reflect on the experience. He said:
“I felt really privileged to be part of the Global’s Make Some Noise Emergency Appeal. For me, it was definitely very special to do it with Southside and Penny. Southside are more than an organisation to me; all the staff are family and for me, they are truly the main real family that I have ever known and felt supported by. It is fantastic that Southside then received funding for their work and that they can continue to deliver the important services in the community.
Retracing the steps that I took at the age of 14 was extremely emotional, but I believe that it truly closed a terrible, sad part of my life – once and for all.
Now 21 years old, I am keen and confident to get on with my life and be the upmost best I can be, of course there will be ups and downs but I know that “my family” – Southside – will be there to pick me up and guide me at any stage.
Everyone there does it with love and compassion however, the key element for everyone is that it’s tough love and honestly, this is just what I always need.
Kai is an inspiration to us all at Southside, and the Young Advocates project he co-founded continues to support and engage local young people, providing peer support and advocacy.
We are very grateful to Global’s Make Some Noise for funding of £20,000 to enable Southside to support families hit hardest by coronavirus in our local communities. This funding helped us to provide essential food and specialist family support during this difficult time when the need is growing significantly – thank you Kai, Global’s Make Some Noise and all the Global listeners, sponsors and partners for their tremendous support.