Trustee Claire Clark recently completed a 2.6 challenge to raise funds for the Ben Kinsella Trust, by visiting 26 police stations across London in an epic 131 mile and 10 hour journey!
We hear from Claire, in her own words, about why she took on the challenge and what she got up to along the way!
The Covid-19 pandemic has had a massive effect with the cancellation of thousands of events and the loss of billions in income through fundraising events. Many of these charities have had to reduce or stop services at a time when vulnerable members of society need them most; thousands of staff have been placed on furlough and many charities may not survive the next few months.
The Virgin Money London Marathon alone, which should have taken place on Sunday 26 April, is the world’s biggest one-day fundraising event, which raised more than £66.4 million for thousands of charities in 2019.
So last Sunday I decided to join in the #twopointsixchallenge and visit 26 open police stations across London while I was the on duty Late Turn Superintendent for South London. I am raising funds for The Ben Kinsella Trust and have been a trustee for the last 10 years.
Ben Kinsella was just 16 years old when he was stabbed to death, in a horrific act of senseless violence on the 29th June, 2008 in Islington on his way home from celebrating finishing his GSCEs.
I am really proud of the work the trust does to educate young people in the consequences of carrying knives and to help them make better choices. We have two exhibitions, one in Islington (our spiritual home) and one in Nottingham at the National Justice Museum. The third one will be in Barking & Dagenham, and once the lockdown is lifted, we should be able to open.
The money raised goes towards funding schools to bring young people into the exhibition. The half day programme has them hear about Ben’s story, see the impact his death had on his family and friends, experience a cell and hear from a young offender, examine the consequences of carrying a knife, work out how to make choices and then we ask them to pledge not to carry a knife. Over 10,000 young people across London have made that pledge.
So, to my challenge – which seemed far easier when I set it than after I’d started planning my route. My office is at Ealing Police station and I wanted to go to stations that had an open front office. Many people in our communities cannot or will not use the online services, so will come to a station for reassurance. Our police staff work behind the scenes so our officers can be out there, but as front line workers their families are as concerned as anyone else’s family, I wanted to say thanks to our public access officers who have been staffing the front offices particularly during this pandemic.
I also decided to live tweet the challenge, to raise awareness of the charity. We cannot combat knife crime by enforcement alone, so it is important to engage young people and educate them. I hijacked the @ealingMPS account and tweeted a photo from every station I visited. The only one that is missing is Forest Gate as the plaque outside is so small and I ended up dealing with a dispute outside so the photo was truly awful. And, thanks to the supportive texts from friends as I progressed, I know I take a rubbish selfie. I’m definitely the wrong generation for that, although a colleague did text me with help.
Thank you to those I met along the way who were welcoming, charming and tolerant of a random Superintendent popping into interrupt their late turn. Some front offices were busy and our colleagues were dealing with the public. Everyone I witnessed was patient and professional. And even though 5 extensions in custody, a closure notice, several urgent verbal authorities for high risk missing persons and a manhunt had to be addressed and dealt with along the way, I managed to complete my challenge in 10 hours and 131 miles.
So thank you to all my colleagues who supported me. We do good work every day. We are a multitude of different people, with different skills and different ambitions. I am very proud of what we do for the people of London.
And I live in a London borough. I have two teenage sons. Which is why this charity is so important to me. So please, if you can spare £2.60, the price of a coffee, to help us help our young people, click on the link here Claire’s 2.6 Challenge.
Thank you for reading this.