Adventurer treads one million metres for one million pennies
Last year was a phenomenal one for fundraiser Mark Stevenson who undertook the bold challenge of raising one million pennies (£10,000) to support survivors of rape and sexual abuse. Not content with taking the easy option of a marathon or two, Mark set his sights on completing one million metres (1,000km) to reach his target.
Mark rose to the challenge and set about raising the money through a number of local running events, warming up for the main event – the Camino de Santiago, a 883 km walk across northern Spain from the South of France.
His marathon efforts have raised valuable funds for Survivors - a rape and sexual trauma centre based in Hull and the East Riding with an outreach service in Grimsby.
Giving victims back their life
Survivors provides highly specialised therapeutic counselling and support to people affected by, or living with, the traumatic effects of childhood sexual abuse and any form of sexual exploitation including human trafficking.
The charity offers a unique service to victims – one that is sadly not financially supported by the NHS or local authorities. As a result, Survivors are not able to see all referred clients, with vulnerable people being added to ever-growing waiting lists.
This is very distressing for victims who have found the courage to break their silence and, despite repeated betrayals of trust, are willing to trust again.
Survivors urgently needs funds in order to offer counselling to many more people - bringing hope to all clients and helping them move on in their lives.
Top tips for fundraisers
With a target of £10,000 Mark has had to really sharpen his fundraising tactics to encourage people to donate.
Mark recommends updating donors and potential donors regularly on your training progress to maintain awareness. He said: “Act quickly on any interest, people's focus can fade quickly and people are easily distracted or forget their promises. Make it as easy as possible for people to support, donate and act as soon as possible.”
He also advises: “Explain what you are doing in a language people can understand, for example, most people in the UK do not have an appreciation for kms (unless they are long distance runners) as we generally measure distance in miles, so I also had to mention the distances I was covering in miles to help people appreciate how far I would have to walk.
Giving the most to charity
Mark chose to use MyDonate to ensure Survivors received as much of the funds raised as possible.
He said: “I researched many other online fundraising services and MyDonate was the one that gave most of the donation back to the charity, no setup fees or commission, only card processing fees, unlike other services. Also MyDonate supports Gift Aid. MyDonate seemed easy to set up, with lots of information for people to donate online if they chose to.”
To date Mark has raised £864 for Survivors – with Gift Aid collected by MyDonate this has been boosted to £984. This will help to provide approximately 60 extra counselling sessions that can help three survivors address the issues arising from their abuse and ultimately allow them to achieve their potential and reclaim their lives.
Mark’s fundraising venture will also go some way to raising the profile of this little-known charity.
Increased awareness of Survivors (Hull & East Riding) will not only help to keep the doors open but will also ensure that more victims of abuse will know where to go for help and support rather than suffer in silence.
Denise McCunnell, chief officer at Survivors said: “We are very grateful for the support that Mark Stevenson gives us and also love the website he has designed for us which enables us to access MyDonate.”
Find out more about how Survivors supports victims of sexual abuse on the charity’s website