Today’s Boss Bike Riders came to support the work of Marcellus Baz and the Switch Up Celebrity Fun Run in Holme Pierrepont in Nottingham.
This wasn’t a day for emptying the personal petrol tank and pedalling along the sodden A6 for what seemed like weeks; or reflecting on civil wars, ancient and modern, up on Bosworth Hill; but a day to step back, change down a couple of gears and marvel at the acts of kindness of strangers and their desire to combat what seems to be an overwhelming problem: the mental health challenges that many young people have faced as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
We’re all becoming increasingly familiar with that story: the Covid-19 pandemic has led to a mental health epidemic for young people; front line services are overloaded; and voluntary organisations like Switch Up are filling the gaps by encouraging strangers to open their hearts and wallets and give of their time and money in the belief that these actions will benefit the young people for whom they are intended.
Fanciful? Naïve? Unrealistic?
Not in the slightest. Whilst the pandemic has overwhelmed much of the world’s health care systems, the last 18 months has also seen a remarkable surge of charitable intent from all sorts of people in all sorts of places with all sorts of motivations generating all sorts of amazing outcomes and outputs.
From those who swore blind they would never give to charity; to those who were determined never to shake a bucket in public; to those who argued that charitable acts were all in vain, tantamount to sticking an Elastoplast over a haemorrhaging economical system: the fact is that the actions of volunteers, and their acts of altruism, faith and optimism have been instrumental in helping many people overcome their sense of helplessness in what feels like an overwhelming crisis.
The apparent tsunami that the pandemic became, led to an overwhelming response in return from so many quarters: from the story of Captain Tom’s walks raising over £38m for the NHS; to The Scouts’ Hike To The Moon mass participation digital fundraising campaign which encouraged folks to hike a mile or more and raised over £700,000; through to Lydia from Aylesbury who performed songs from Oliver! to members of her church congregation via Zoom and raised £355, five times more than she had originally hoped for. The stories of how people’s response to the pandemic has generated overwhelming returns for an initial tiny investment of their time, their ideas and their creativity are legion.
Today’s Switch Up Celebrity Fun Run was no exception. Hundreds of people turned up to give their time, their money and their expertise for the benefit of the young people that Switch Up work with. The spirits of Captain Tom, the Scouts and Lydia and the many other thousands of people who responded in their own ways to an overwhelming situation with their overwhelming responses, were never far away today. Running along the tow path, sparring in the boxing ring or laying down gasping for breath by the side of the Burger Van, the participants in today’s Switch Up Fun Run showed yet again the altruism, faith and optimism people can generate when faced with seemingly overwhelming odds.
Switch Up will know in a few days about the financial outcomes of today’s event. What will take longer to understand, and perhaps be impossible to measure, are the effects that today’s acts of faith and kindness will have for the young people Switch Up are focused on supporting. One thing we can be certain of though is that they will be catalytic and provide countless examples of how to counteract a sense of helplessness in times of overwhelming crisis.