Sister Christine Frost MBE, the 83-year-old founder of the charity Neighbours In Poplar, is working hard for you by walking 500 miles before June to raise money for a new minibus for the charity.
Sister Christine set herself the challenge to walk the distance between London and John O’ Groats, before the Neighbours In Poplar Sponsored Walk on June 26th at Victoria Park. The fundraiser is to raise the money to buy a new minibus for the charity with Sister Christine aiming to raise £10,000 of that with her 500-mile walk.
Neighbours In Poplar (NIP) is encouraging the community to join in and walk 5k to raise money for the cause. “The bus is absolutely essential”, says Sister Christine, “We got our first minibus about forty years ago and we didn’t realise then how important it would become.”
The charity relies on the minibus to deliver: hot meals; donate stock to food banks; transport residents to hospital and vaccination appointments; provide vital supplies and furniture and for recreational and social trips. Mandy Molymeux, the Manager of NIP says: “The minibus is the most essential part of our project and we couldn’t do the work we do without it. We are reaching around 500 different individuals right now and before COVID we were able to offer everyone, no matter their circumstance, a chance to join in our hubs and our social trips.”
The charity describes the minibus as a lifeline to their clients. Mandy says: “Without it some of our clients may not see a single person in a week and a number of them would not be going out at all.” Throughout the pandemic, NIP has used the minibus to deliver hot food to those who need it and on March 21st 2021, the charity served their 13,000th hot dinner.
So far, Sister Christine has raised £2000 but with an overall target of £45,000 there is still a long way to go. She says: “Anyone would say, £45,000, for a minibus you must be joking! But it’s the ‘WAVlift’ that’s the expense. It’s also the cost of the insurance, cost of petrol and of course the driver. No use without the driver!”
On how she is finding the 500 mile walk Sister Christine says: “We have done sponsored walks before but my feet are old now. I will be 84 years old at the end of next month so my feet will be 84 years old and they are feeling it. I might need the minibus to get me to the finish line!” Sister Christine isn’t the only one raising funds by walking. Dyane Richardson, a LinkAge Plus Outreach Worker at NIP, is not only walking 500 miles, she is walking 500 more. Totalling 1000 miles before the fundraiser in June.
NIP is run entirely from volunteers and relies heavily on donations as funding has been cut over the last few years. Sister Christine says: “I haven’t gone out of my way to ask people to donate to this campaign as a lot of people are in a difficult place. The challenge now is that we can’t do any of the fundraising that we would normally do.”
In the past, the charity has hosted jumble sales, cake sales, tea parties, themed events, and many more group activities to gather funds but the COVID restrictions have made it difficult to organise anything this year.
NIP are reaching out to the Poplar community for help, hoping to encourage more to get involved with the fundraiser. The charity’s tagline is ‘today we need you, but tomorrow you may need us’ because they rely on local Poplar volunteers, who may need the charity’s help in the future. Sister Christine says: “I’ve been here so long that a number of our volunteers in the past have become our clients now. We need help today to be able to be there for people tomorrow and today we need some help with our minibus”.
Hopefully there will be sunshine on Poplar on the 26th June for the Neighbours In Poplar Sponsored Walk. You can sign up to run, hop or just walk and haver with your friends on the Neighbours In Poplar website or you can support Sister Christine’s 500 mile walk on her JustGiving page.
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