This period of lockdown limits what we can do, but that hasn't stopped fundraisers up and down the country from getting creative with their incredible efforts. Dan, Community Fundraising Manager at Age UK, explains why inventive individuals are so important to us and our work, now more than ever.
I love speaking to our fundraisers and hearing about how they want to challenge themselves or use their skills to do something they have never done before, and do this with a passion for helping older people in need.
We’ve had a huge increase in people wanting to support Age UK at this time, with everything from virtual pub quizzes and indoor exercise challenges, to shaving heads and YouTube DJ sets. The money raised by these dedicated fundraisers across the UK helps us be there for older people and their families when they need us most.
I’d like to thank all of our fundraisers. We need you more than ever right now and the money you are raising is making such a difference. Struggling for inspiration? Check out some of our superstar fundraisers below.
Calling all fundraisers!
We need YOU to do something amazing. With many of us staying at home, now's your chance to get involved, raise much-needed money and support vulnerable older people through the coronavirus crisis.
Climbing Everest one step at a time
Lizzie’s sons, Scott and Oliver, have always wanted to climb the highest mountain in the world after going up Snowdon a couple of years ago, so the family decided to set themselves a challenge to climb the height of Everest (8848 metres) on their stairs at home. She tells us all about the ascent…
“After the schools closed, the kids were a bit anxious about the virus, what they were going to be able to do and what adventures they were going to be able to go on, and how the older and vulnerable, like their Nanna, were going to be at home alone. So, we set them, and ourselves, the challenge to climb the height of Everest (8848m) on our stairs to try and raise money for Age UK's Emergency Coronavirus Appeal.
“We tied this into their home-schooling, so we spent the first week preparing. We worked out our route, made fact files on Nepal, calculated distances, practised crossing crevasses, learnt some ropework, made oxygen masks, ate mountain pancakes and put up prayer flags. On Sat 28 March we set off. The first day we climbed the height of Snowdon (1085m) then up to Kathmandu (1,400m), then base camp (5,334m) and onwards.
“We were amazed at how they have kept going and wanted to do the set distance each day, even though their legs were getting very tired. They were so determined because of how much money people gave.
“This isolation we are all going through at the moment makes you think a lot about those who are vulnerable and alone. It also makes you stop and think and realise that this isolation is what a lot of people actually deal with day in, day out. So, the work that Age UK does to support older people is invaluable.”
Angela's 10k relay
Angela and her children Eleanor and Thomas recently did a 10k relay for Age UK, spreading it across a weekend so as to stay within the Government's guidelines on not taking more than 1 hour of exercise outside a day.
A close shave
Our very own Senior Content Producer, James, decided that braving the shave would raise lots of money for Age UK. He tells us what it was like to part with his luscious locks…
“I’d seen a lot of people shaving their heads on social media, so I knew it wasn’t the most original idea. I’d never had my hair that short before, though, and it felt like something achievable during lockdown. With some fundraisers there need to be stakes – and I was sure I knew enough people curious to see how daft I’d look with a shaved head to donate and find out.
“The only challenge was taking the plunge and actually getting rid of the hair once I’d hit the £500 target – aside from that, it was all highlights. The best thing was seeing the generosity of friends, family, and in some cases, perfect strangers, which was really heartening. It’s also interesting to see how much can be achieved without leaving the house. Plus I don’t mind the bald bonce!
“My Nan died a couple of years ago, aged 93, which was a very difficult loss. Up until her late eighties, she’d exemplified the kind of later life we’d wish for all older people – remaining physically active, sharp of mind, and quick of wit. In her nineties, however, her health began to deteriorate, which brought about some upsetting changes but also a bravery in the face of adversity, and a self-deprecation in the face of seriousness. She was an inspiration to the very end; all my work for Age UK is to honour her.
“Age UK’s work informing and supporting older people, their families and carers remains vital – and even more so during the coronavirus crisis. This period provides a combination of illness, isolation and confusion that could be detrimental, and even deadly, to so many older people. It also presents significant challenges for Age UK, and our network of local Age UKs, as the demand for our services continues to increase. Donations to our emergency appeal make it possible to meet these challenges.”
A family affair
Chris and his wife are teachers and run a boarding house that's normally home to 86 girls from around the UK. With the house now empty, the family decided to use the space to keep fit and set themselves an ambitious challenge.
“We're a family in lockdown, like so many others all around the globe, looking for entertainment and a way to help others in this strange new world. We were struck by an item on the News at Ten that particularly stood out from all the bleak coronavirus updates. We learnt that due to the cancellation or postponement of fundraising events, UK charities stand to lose £4 billion in the next few months.
“An example was that, since the start of lockdown, Age UK are experiencing many times the usual number of calls from older people asking for help, yet the charity's income will drop by 50% in the coming months.
“The London Marathon, originally due to take place on 26 April, has now been postponed until October. This event alone raises £60 million. To help plug the funding gap, Lucinda, Maddie, Jess, Zara and I are going to run an isolation marathon together in the house throughout April until the original London Marathon date.
“We have mapped a route to the top of the house and back using both staircases which measures 0.1 miles. Between us, we are running this route 10 times a day to cover a mile a day until 26 April (with an extra 0.22 on Marathon Day) in our staircase steeplechase.
“It’s amazing to see the 3 girls really enjoy doing their laps and throwing themselves into extra ones some days. On the 3rd day (3 April ), our 5-year-old daughter, Zara, did all 10 laps for the day plus an extra one for good measure as her sisters weren’t feeling great. When the girls moan about doing it, we remind them why we have committed to it and point out all the amazing donations people have given. It reminds them how lucky we are and that we need to remember that isolation is much tougher for lots of other people.
“My father has Alzheimer’s and is now very happily settled in an amazing specialist care home, but for several years my mother cared for him at home as his dementia worsened. This was very tough on her, but she coped thanks in part to the incredible support of charities and local community. Had coronavirus struck this time last year, isolation would have been an enormous challenge for my mother without the support network she needed to look after my father. Charities like Age UK do so much to help older people either living on their own or caring for others.”
Still stuck for inspiration on how you can fundraise?
Still stuck for inspiration on how you can fundraise? Stay home, have fun and raise money for Age UK with these bright ideas.
An indoor ultramarathon
Sean, an avid runner and former Royal Marine, decided to set himself a daring endurance challenge to raise money for Age UK. He tells us how it all went down…
“The idea for the fundraiser itself came from my passion for physical challenge! I used to be an avid runner and have maintained fairly decent endurance, so a long distance running event seemed to make the most sense. I wanted to ensure that my challenge was both difficult and something that had never been done before. I wanted it to gain as much traction as possible and therefore raise the maximum amount of money!
“The biggest highlights from the fundraiser were probably the amount of people contributing. The amount of supportive comments, video shares and donations really blew me away! It felt like a group of people had come together and that was something that gave me a huge amount of motivation to finish. People were requesting songs and seemingly having a good time which was really heartwarming.
“The biggest challenge was the sheer amount of pain I was in! The constant turning and stop-start nature really took a lot more energy out of me than a standard run, so I hit a bit of a brick wall at around 30km. My feet, knees, hips and back all hurt a significant amount so I had to do my best to switch off for the remaining 70km and just get it done! Every time I stopped to go to the loo, my legs also seized up completely and it took me a good kilometre or so to get them working properly again!
“I wanted to fundraise for Age UK because the older population are the ones hit hardest by coronavirus. They are among the most vulnerable to the disease itself, as well as the effects of isolation. It was a statistic that I came across which really hit home for me and that was that 2.65 million older people feel as though they have nobody to turn to for help. That fact, at this time, is absolutely heart-breaking and I wanted to do anything I could to help.
“Age UK's work should resonate with anyone who has an elderly relative that they care about. I am lucky to have grandparents who are both healthy and have a lot of family, but the thought of them ever being lonely or having nobody to turn to is an awful one. I'm really glad I managed to raise some money for what is an incredible charity.”
No one should be left behind
As lockdown lifts, you can help us make sure vulnerable older people aren't forgotten. Donate today to help Age UK open doors for our older generation.