Netherlands Road Neighbourhood Marathon

Initially inspired by the 2.6 Challenge set up by organisers of the London Marathon to help save UK charities, we’ve heard about exciting challenges Barnet residents have been taking part in. Netherlands Road resident, Vicky Small explains what she organised last Sunday and gives details of similar events coming up elsewhere.

About six weeks ago I decided to leaflet neighbours to invite them to join a WhatsApp group for the road, to support and look out for one another during the coronavirus pandemic. I had a really positive response and the group has grown steadily over the weeks. We now have more than 50 members and it has acted as a catalyst for neighbours who have lived alongside each other for years to finally get to know one another a bit better. We’re even planning to hold a street party to meet one another properly, once it’s safe to do so.

I am a keen runner, and I was fortunate enough to gain a ballot place entry into the 2019 London Marathon. I used this “golden ticket” as an opportunity to raise money for Friend In Need in East Barnet, a small local charity that wouldn’t normally get the chance to be represented at such an event.

Little did I realise that fast forward one year, I would be running a marathon again for Friend In Need. The idea came to me on the evening of 23rd – to hold a marathon along a half-mile loop of my road three days’ later on Sunday morning raising money for FIN. On our Netherlands Road WhatsApp group I asked whether anyone would be willing to join in with running or walking 53 laps (26.2 miles) between us and, half expecting to have to cover most of the loops myself, I was blown away by the response and support from my neighbours.

On the day around 25 households took part and other neighbours stood outside their houses clapping us on. Many of us were meeting each other for the first time. I produced a sign-up sheet and arranged it so that two households set off from their front door every five minutes to do their loop, respecting social distancing requirements. It was an incredible experience – see pictures. There has been lots of positive feedback from neighbours about the event and also about supporting FIN. I can hardly believe that I/we managed to pull off a holding a marathon within the space of 48 hours!

Some information about FIN and future events

Due to the coronavirus situation, FIN has had to close many of the services it runs, since the vast majority of its end users are over the age of 70 and having to self-isolate. Instead they have set up a Covid-19 Community Response Team to cater for the escalating needs of older and vulnerable people in our community by providing practical and emotional support. With a significant loss of income for the foreseeable future (due to their regular services being closed), FIN is facing bleak times. They have been serving the Barnet community for over 35 years, but the financial difficulties caused by austerity and now the coronavirus have caught up with them.

It was with this in mind that I encouraged the Netherlands Road community to step up and take some action to help. Many people in the local area (including some in my road) have benefitted from the services and support that FIN offer – whether it be for themselves as a carer or for their partner, parent or grandparent.

Following on from the success of the Netherlands Road marathon, FIN’s Community Challenge has now been launched. FIN is looking for your help to enable it to continue providing its greatly valued services and support. Would you like to become one of FIN’s Champions by mobilising your street or local neighbourhood to arrange a fundraising challenge? Ideas could include a sponsored walk or run in your street; a street art competition; an online photography exhibition. Let your imagination take you away, providing the event is in keeping with current social distancing requirements.

Donations to FIN can be sent to Friend In Need, Crescent Road, East Barnet EN4 8PS or you can give online via their website or on the Community Challenge page. Here is the Netherlands Road fundraising page.

To find out more or to register your interest in taking part in a Community Challenge please get in touch by calling the FIN office on 020 8449 8225 or emailing fin@fin-eastbarnet.org.uk.

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