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Funding Boost ahead of third Walkathon

Date: Tuesday 20 June

Funding Boost ahead of third Walkathon

Volunteers behind the 24-hour Wellmeadow Walkathon in Blairgowrie – hosted by Blairgowrie and Rattray Development Trust to raise money for Jordan’s Challenge – have received a huge boost ahead of this year's event.

Harry Gow from Perth, who studied at Perth College with Jordan Hart, the inspiration behind #JordansChallenge, organised a race night at Kinross Curling Club recently.

More than 70 people took part, raising £5260.20 to support mental health and wellbeing charities and services in the region.

£2500 is to go towards supporting the Happy to chat, happy to listen Bench Trail in Blairgowrie, Rattray and the surrounding area, which was established in memory of Jordan who died by suicide in 2020 and ongoing efforts by Jordan’s family to provide mental health and wellbeing outreach services in the east Perthshire town to support those in crisis.

The Lighthouse in Perth and the Samaritans will receive £1000 each and the remainder of the money will go towards researching and facilitating associated Happy to chat, Happy to Listen benches outwith the Blairgowrie and Glens area.

The funds are a welcome boost coming just two weeks before the third annual 24-hour Wellmeadow Walkathon, which this year takes place over the weekend of Saturday, August 5th and Sunday, August 6th from 4pm to 4pm.

Previous years have seen nearly 200 people from almost 50 groups, organisations and businesses take it in turns to walk around the town centre focal point for a one-hour slot, raising funds and awareness of the stigma that surrounds mental health.

This year, additional places have been opened up to allow up to 96 groups, organisations, families and individuals keen to support the event take part with bookings open online now until Friday, August 4th.

Jordan’s Challenge was set up in 2021 by east Perthshire mum Susan Hart, who walked or cycled five kilometres every day for six months in memory of her son Jordan.

Since then, thanks to the support of the local community in Blairgowrie and Rattray and beyond – the family has raised over £20,000 for a series of 57 benches in and around the town, the last six of which will be installed this year, and for a mental health and outreach hub in the town.

The benches provide a space where people can come together and talk, helping to reduce social isolation and encouraging people to get out and about.

The mental health and wellbeing hub, currently located in a specially designated room in the BaRI building on Blairgowrie High Street, offers a free space to any mental health and wellbeing related services.

Amongst the groups that already use the space are Perth and Kinross Council’s Wellbeing Support Team, a mental health art group, the Women’s Walk and Chat group, the Cuppa and a Cake group, Churches Action For The Homeless, Barnardos and Mindspace.

It is hoped that through fundraising, including donations such as from Harry, and from events such as the Wellmeadow Walkathon and the #KeepTalkingForJordan event on his birthday, the service will be able to expand to include a sensory room and other facilities that would support the groups that use it.

The Walkathon is also part of Susan, Gavin and Bethany’s ongoing efforts to raise awareness of the stigma that often still surrounds mental health and support for those in need.

Thanking Harry for his efforts, Susan said: “What a fantastic amount to have raised, thank you so very much to Harry, Kirsty and all the family for all the hard work and effort they put into ensuring it was such a success.

“Thanks also to all the race sponsors, everyone who donated to the raffle and the auction, and everyone who came along and made it such a success.

“There was a lovely atmosphere at the race night and I think it was a fantastic example of what can be achieved, and that by having conversations about mental health and wellbeing we can #ReduceTheStigma that still unfortunately exists.

“The Walkathon, the outreach hub and the bench trail are all about people coming together to talk and to listen, and to raise awareness that it’s okay not to be okay.

“We want to be able to provide services in a local, safe environment to support the community, and ensure that people don’t have to worry about the logistics of getting to Perth or Dundee if they are in crisis and donations such as this one from Harry help us to that.”

Efforts to establish the mental health and wellbeing hub in the town are being coordinated by BRDT through its community engagement work.  

Sam Stewart, community engagement coordinator with BRDT, said: “BRDT supports community groups, individuals, and volunteers to deliver projects to enhance the town for the benefit of all and the Wellmeadow Walkathon, the bench trail and the mental health and wellbeing hub are fantastic examples of that in action.

“A number of groups such as the Women’s Walk and Chat group and get-togethers like the weekly cuppa and a cake sessions are already using the building which is great but there is still a long way to go.

“We know that services want to provide outreach in towns like Blairgowrie and Rattray but often can’t afford to hire the space. If we can support them by being able to provide the space then that has to be a good thing.

“It’s an amazing tribute to Jordan and we are very grateful to everyone who is supporting us do what we can to help others.”

The benches all have plaques with the Walkathon logo – designed by Jordan’s friend Holly Richardson – and the name of the group or organisation that has supported it on it. They are all numbered and a digital map detailing their locations is available online at www.discoverblairgowrie.co.uk so that people can follow the bench trail visiting as many as they wish to.

For more information or to book your slot at the Wellmeadow Walkathon, go to www.discoverblairgowrie.co.uk/walkathon

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