Edith’s Kiltwalk story

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This year’s Edinburgh Kiltwalk takes place on the 15th of September and it’s expected that over 5,000 people are set to take part in what is expected to be the biggest Kiltwalk yet!

One of those people is our very own Bethany hero, Edith Bovo, who is donning her kilt and lacing up her walking boots to support Bethany Christian Trust and help end homelessness in Scotland.

Why did you choose to support Bethany Christian Trust?
Partly, because I work here. I’m the Volunteer Co-ordinator, so I’ve had an insight into the work Bethany does and I see the contributions that the volunteers make – and they give so much of their time for nothing – I would like to give my time outside of work also to help Bethany.

The problem with homelessness is that it’s so widespread in Edinburgh. We see it every day and I wanted to do something to help even if it’s just a small thing.

What motivated you to take part in this year’s Kiltwalk?
So, for me and my dad, our primary way of spending time together is walking. We used to go on hikes in the Alps every year but we don’t get to spend that much time together because he lives In England. He really, really loves Scotland, so I knew it would be a sure fire way of making him come and spend time with me. He’s Italian but he’s insisting on wearing tartan and he loves fundraising.

What’s been the most challenging aspect of your training?
Probably thinking that I need to do training – I always expect that I’ll always be able to do everything. I think because I’ve been hiking my whole life, I’ve kinda just assumed I’ll be fine.

Then I remembered that I’m walking with my dad and he doesn’t feel pain or emotion. I know I have the physical capacity, it’s more about the mental stamina to keep pushing myself when I don’t want to do something.

How much money are you hoping to raise?
As much as possible, but I think a minimum of £200

You work at BCT, can you tell us what the money raised will go towards?
Lots of different things! It will go towards our Crisis Intervention works – the Winter Care Shelter, the Care Van, House and Care Shelter. It will also go towards homelessness prevention – so all the community groups that help people stave off isolation, provide housing support and making people make steps towards their future after coming through the process of homelessness. It could be any one of those amazing causes.

What advice would you give to someone thinking of taking part in this year’s Kiltwalk?
Pack lots of snacks and you’ll always want more water than you think you will!

How can people get involved in this year’s Kiltwalk?
Sign up if you want to take part in the Kiltwalk or, if not, sponsor people that are. Also, pray for the people that are taking part and spread the word.

 

Want to join Edith on her fundraising efforts? Become a #BCTHero yourself and sign up to the Edinburgh Kiltwalk today.

You can also support Edith by making a donation on her JustGiving page

 

 

Matt Mearns

Digital Media Volunteer

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The 2019 Edinburgh Kiltwalk: Help end homelessness in Scotland, one step at a time

 

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Walking is part of our everyday lives. In fact, it’s so natural to us, that we do it without a second thought.

Walking a Marathon, however, is a little more unusual – especially if you were to wear a kilt.

Despite this, on the 15th of September over 5,000 people will come together for the annual Kiltwalk in and around the City of Edinburgh as they fundraise for various charitable causes.

Already, people are signing up to help support Bethany Christian Trust end homelessness in Scotland and to help make your fundraising efforts the best they can be – and the most enjoyable – we have put together some training advice so you can be ready for the Kiltwalk and take it all in your stride.

TRAINING FOR THE KILTWALK
On average we walk between 8,000-12,000 steps a day. In order to successfully walk a marathon, you are going to be clocking upwards of 55,000 steps; so, it’s important to know your fitness capabilities before you start.

Thankfully, the Kiltwalk have an option for everyone -no matter what your fitness level! You can choose between three routes: The Wee Wander (6 miles); The Big Stroll (12 miles) or The Mighty Stride (26 miles).

So, once you have chosen your preferred distance, it’s time to start training!
It’s important to start slowly and build up your endurance gradually. Don’t attempt to walk a marathon on your first go!

Instead, just start off by increasing your steps by a two to three thousand each day to kick things off. This can be easily done by walking to work instead of getting the bus, adding a 30-minute stroll into your evening plans or by ditching the car and pounding the pavements instead whenever possible.

Once you’ve adjusted to your new increase in daily steps (this should only take a week or two), it’s time to start your dedicated walking sessions.
Your first session should be used to gauge what distance you can walk comfortably, whilst still challenging yourself. Your walks thereafter should focus on covering a greater distance than you did in your previous session, say by 2-4 miles each time. Do this 2-3 times per week, up until the week before the event. As your distances increase, you can lower the intensity to compensate.

If your taking on The Mighty Stride (26 miles) then aim to get in at least one walk of 18+ miles before the big event.

IT’S A MARATHON NOT A SPRINT
Remember, the Kiltwalk is not a race. So, throughout your training (and on the day itself) take plenty of rest as and when needed, enjoy the amazing Edinburgh scenery and, above all else, enjoy the experience!

Happy FUNdraising to all our #BCTheroes.

 

BETHANYS TOP KILTWALK TIPS
• Wear shoes you are comfortable in to avoid blisters.
• Listen to your favourite upbeat music to stay motivated.
• Stay hydrated – don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink.
• Enjoy a carb heavy meal the night before for longer lasting energy.
• Keep energy levels topped up throughout your walk with cereal bars or fruit.

 

 

 

Matt Mearns
Digital Media Volunteer

Stressed out

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During Stress Awareness Month we are made aware of the consequences that stress can bring in our lives. Each of us has experienced stress to some degree and we are familiar with the body switching from fight or flight mode when we encounter pressure that we don’t feel we can handle. We may have experienced some of the negative symptoms such as memory problems, inability to concentrate, moodiness and anxiety, chest pain or high blood pressure. Even I have the occasional anxious moment when I’m overwhelmed with work. But what if we were to lose a home or find ourselves in a situation where we had no-where to go and needed a bed to sleep at night? Homelessness can happen to any one of us. According to statistics by Shelter Scotland, people sleeping on the street are almost 17 times more likely to have been victims of violence and more than one in three people sleeping rough have been deliberately hit or kicked or experienced some other form of violence whilst homeless. Homeless people are also over nine times more likely to take their own life than the general population.

Homeless people suffer high levels of stress from their lack of control over their housing situation, combined with high levels of poverty and often poor living conditions. Stress in people who are homeless can happen more slowly and subtly over longer periods of time and can be easy to miss. The stress of experiencing homelessness may exacerbate previous mental illness and encourage anxiety, fear, depression, sleeplessness and substance use.

This is why Bethany staff take time to care and listen to people in desperate need. Bethany staff work hard to create community among vulnerable people, which helps to tackle stress. In the care shelter, staff have created an environment where people look out for each other despite the hardship and stress that goes with homelessness and rough sleeping.

I remember hearing that one night at the Care Shelter, as the guests were gathered at the entrance waiting for the doors to open, one of the regular guests suddenly collapsed and had a seizure. Staff swung into action – they are trained to deal with such incidents. At the same time, all the guests showed huge concern and willingness to help by any means possible.   They gave staff space and time to care for the stricken individual, and they made sure no one entered the building while the staff were distracted.  That concern and caring by the other guests continued as the seizure subsided and the man began to come around. Some guests waited in the street to flag down the ambulance that had been called.

Even though the vast majority of the guests did not know this man or maybe only knew him by his first name, and even though some of the guests are in terrible situations themselves, they still showed love and caring towards the unknown man.  The Care Shelter is a community; many individuals from different backgrounds, brought together by a lack of accommodation. Despite their many differences, there is a willingness to look out for one another. This is why I’m proud to work for Bethany Christian Trust.

Bethany has been at the forefront of turning hopeless, stressful situations around, transforming lives and will continue to work hard ending homelessness one person at a time.

As Christians we are called to fill our lives with the concern for others, so let us follow the example of those guests at the Care Shelter, watching out and caring for those around us who are stressed, offering peace and demonstrating the love of God to all those we meet.

Joni McArthur

Team Lead

Laughing without fear of the future

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She is clothed with strength and dignity,
& laughs without fear of the future. (Proverbs 31: 25)

I love these verses from Proverbs 31 assigned to the ‘Wife of Noble Character’. Now I’m no wife, but living with ‘strength and dignity, and laughing without fear of the future’ is a lifestyle that I imagine many of us would be keen to embrace and live to the full, whether male or female, married or otherwise.

But sadly I see that the opposite is too often true, that many people in my city are living life in constant fear: fear of illness, abuse, rejection; fear of wondering how to make ends meet, wondering what the future holds, wondering if they’ll make it through to the next day.

In my work with Destiny Angels, we seek to get alongside those who are fearing the future, to take time to hear their stories, to build relationships, to build self-esteem and confidence, to let them know that they are loved, that they can face their future with strength and dignity.

Whether it’s sitting alongside someone affected by homelessness to offer them hot chocolate, a listening ear and prayer; whether it’s setting a table and inviting those affected by isolation or poor mental health to join our community meals; whether it’s teaching English to those struggling to adjust to life in a new country; or inviting vulnerable women to experience the security and love of a safe, welcoming space where they can learn new life skills and ‘just be’— I’m always blown away by the simple act of listening to someone’s story.

Attending a recent event marking International Women’s Day, and with March being Women’s History Month, I have once again been reminded of the stories of inspiring and extraordinary women who have gone before me, changing the world in which I live for the better—the Mother Teresas, Emmeline Pankhurts, Marie Curies and Rosa Parks of this world.

But I don’t need to look far to see remarkable women—and men— crossing my path every day, bringing hope, love, encouragement and joy into the darkest of places, remarkable individuals who are both story tellers and story listeners. I am always struck by the compassion with which our Destiny Angels’ volunteers serve and the lengths they go to to support and build others up, regardless of their own circumstances and challenging personal situations they may face. Many find strength and worth in the midst of their own weakness as they look beyond themselves to serve and encourage others.

Jesus said ‘I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full’ (John 10:10). What a promise for each one of us to take hold of, offering our time, treasures and talents, as we seek to restore our communities to fullness.

And what an invitation for each one of us to listen to the stories of those around us, to allow those stories to move us to action and to see our communities clothed in dignity and strength, helping them to laugh again without fear of the future.

Elizabeth Bowes is the Community Action Coordinator for Destiny Angels which is part of Destiny Church, Edinburgh.

Food or tampons? The impossible decisions homeless women are making every day

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As a woman, I can honestly say that not many women jump for joy when it’s that time of the month. And when it’s that time of the month for a woman who is homeless, the depth of dread sinks deeper than I or any of us could imagine.
According to Shelter Scotland, roughly 21% of the 34,972 people who registered as homeless in the 2017-2018 year were single women; 17% were single mothers (Shelter Scotland, 2017). While these women not only worry about sleeping rough, finding food and searching for eventual stability, they also must navigate the inevitabilities of being female, many without adequate funds or resources.

Just the other day, I walked into Asda looking to restock my supply of pads and tampons. I was shocked to see how expensive a single box of tampons was, but I needed them and after throwing them into my cart, I didn’t ponder on it much longer. Yet, there are women in this very city who cannot afford to buy the sanitary towels or toiletries they need. What would you choose if you were homeless: food or tampons?

The larger part of history, society – even charities – has rarely talked about homelessness and periods. I didn’t even consider it as something homeless women faced until I discovered #TheHomelessPeriod. Founded by three women who were interning together at a London advertising agency, the movement quickly took off.
Working to gain awareness about the issue, The Homeless Period has paired with various charities, beauty companies and every day women in donating hundreds of thousands of “Period Packs” for women who are homeless across the UK (TheHomlessPeriod.com).

#TheHomelessPeriod, however, were not the only ones to notice the difficulties homeless women were facing. Thanks to a 2015 Huffington Post article discussing homeless women and periods in the UK, Stephanie Arnold and Sharron Champion from South Carolina, United States decided that enough was enough and were inspired to start their own charity.

Arnold and Champion’s charity, The Homeless Period Project, also has worked to create and distribute “Period Packs” to women who cannot or struggle to afford necessities for their periods. Volunteers, community members and women who experienced homelessness in their past help Arnold and Champion to not only provide women and young girls with sanitary products, but also end the stigma surrounding menstruation.
Arnold and Champion are heavily involved in their work, hosting “Period Pack” sessions with volunteers, delivering hundreds of pads and tampons to schools in surrounding districts, and running the overall operations of the charity. In an interview for a Restoring Dignity documentary, Champion states that “moms will go without [sanitary napkins], but the thought that you’re so much in poverty… that you can’t afford the products for your child and how hurtful that must be for the mothers.”

The work all of these women have done brings me back to Scotland and the 21% and 17% of women who have to sleep rough and endure the pains and stains of Mother Nature’s monthly ‘gift’. Working at Bethany, I’ve discovered the countless employees, volunteers and service users who are strongly committed to not only eliminating homelessness across Scotland, but also preserving and upholding the dignity and respect of all who seek our help.

So, with that in mind, how can we – how can I – help the women sleeping rough across Scotland even more than we have already? How do we empower women experiencing homelessness and help restore their dignity?

As I’ve said before in previous blog posts, I strongly believe in the power of small actions. A few ways to help out could involve simply talking with a woman you see, listening to her story and asking her if she needs anything (you, of course, should not flat out ask “do you need a tampon?” but engage in civil conversation).

Simply donating online to charities of your choosing is another great way of supporting women. #TheHomelessPeriod encourages donors to set up Crowdfunds and projects, using their social media presence to promote these initiatives to the wider community. You can even gather your own “Period Packs” and donate them to local shelters for female residents.

My favourite way of helping women who are homeless is through hosting my own Bethany Afternoon Tea. Gather all your strong, empowering gal-pals and raise some money – and tampons – for women in need.

There are countless ways to help those sleeping rough across Scotland one sanitary product at a time.

 

Haley Allaben

Communications Intern

Give kindness every day, not just one day

Last week on 17 February was National Random Acts of Kindness Day which encourages folk to promote good deeds or pledge acts of kindness, often to strangers, in the hopes of making the world a better place. Ruth Longmuir, Care Shelter Manager, reflects on why we should give kindness every day, and not just one day.

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On 17 February the US celebrated National Random Acts of Kindness day, a time to surprise others by showing them unexpected kindness. This might include paying for the bus ticket of the person behind you in the queue, buying flowers for your elderly neighbour, backing a cake for a friend, giving money to someone who is begging or stopping to help someone change a flat tyre. The other day I was walking back to the office when I came to cross the road. A man with a bike was waiting there and as I approached he gave me a big smile and wished me a happy Valentine’s Day, before immediately crossing the road. I couldn’t help but smile, his act of kindness made me feel good. Random acts of kindness are great but do we really need a day to remind us to be kind to one another?

 

The Bible tells us that kindness is one of the fruits of the Spirit. Along with love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control, kindness is a characteristic seen in us when we have the Holy Spirit shaping us to be more like Jesus. There are numerous examples of Jesus showing kindness to people during his time on Earth. Just think of all the people he healed and all the time he spent with people rejected by society or considered unclean. In Ephesians 4:32 we are told to, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” This is not merely a suggestion for one day a year but something that should permeate all of our actions because of the incredible kindness God has shown us.

 

At the Care Shelter I see acts of kindness all of the time; as a staff team we aim to treat guests well and go the extra mile for everyone who comes through the door. What amazes me is the kindness guests show to each other. People are often in the worst place in their lives when they find themselves at the Care Shelter – everything has fallen apart and they are homeless, without anyone who cares about them. You’d understand if they were focussing on themselves but instead they are letting more needy people go ahead of them in the dinner queue, sharing a box of chocolates with the staff team or giving away their bed to someone who needs it more when the shelter is at capacity. Recently one man took another under his wing and spent time with him during the day, helping him to visit the GP and present to the council to get accommodation so that he no longer needs to stay at the Care Shelter.

 

Being kind to others involves us being generous and giving something of ourselves – our time, effort, or perhaps money. It is easy to think that the recipient must therefore be deserving of our kindness but God calls us to be kind to everyone. If we are motivated to act in true kindness, we don’t expect anything in return. The man with the bike didn’t wait around to see if I was going to wish him a happy Valentine’s Day back, he just wanted to do something nice to make a stranger feel good.

 

Instead of showing kindness once a year on a particular day, why not aim to show kindness every single day?

 

Ruth Longmuir

Care Shelter Manager

 

How your leftovers could make a difference

In one of my favourite movies The Good Lie, there is a particular scene that always strikes me. With the help of a social worker played by Reese Witherspoon, three Sudanese refugees arrive in the United States and are quickly tasked to find employment. Working at a grocery store, one of the refugees is directed by his boss to dispose of unwanted, yet still fresh food. Despite his retaliation against throwing away good food, the man complies with his boss’ order. As he throws away the food, a homeless woman nervously approaches him. Rather than brush her away, he smiles, quickly throws food into her bag, and goes back to work.

Far too often, I have taken for granted the value and importance of food. Especially in the United States where I’m from, we’ve become extremely wasteful when it comes to food production and consumption. According to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), in 2010 alone, the United States wasted roughly 133 billion pounds and $161 billion worth of food. Such high levels of waste ultimately prompted the USDA to establish its first ever national food loss and waste reduction plan in 2013 (USDA, 2013). In spite of waste reduction efforts, society has continued to foster a culture of eating with our eyes and letting the rest go to waste, not thinking of those who are struggling to find their next meal.

Like most people, sometimes I get nervous when I notice a homeless person along the sidewalk. I try to think of things to do to help, but more often than not, I follow the crowd and walk on by. It’s not that I don’t want to help, but rather that I’m unsure how to help.

Recently, I was walking home from a wonderful dinner with new friends I had just met through my study abroad program here in Edinburgh when I saw a woman who appeared to be homeless sitting along the side of the pavement. She was wrapped in layers of blankets asking passers-by if they had any change to spare. I watched as a couple in front of me and my friends passed by her without acknowledging her presence and I quickly thought, “Alright, what can I do?”

Rather than my leftover food – which was quite a substantial quantity as I hadn’t been hungry – presumably be carted away to the waste bins behind the restaurant, I had asked for a box to go. And I’m thankful I did. Seeing no grocery store nearby, I approached the woman sitting on the sidewalk, apologised for not having cash on hand, and offered her my pasta instead. She gladly accepted.

Often, when we think of helping people who are homeless, we immediately think we must make a grand gesture, and while those gestures are not bad in the slightest, little actions can equally make a big difference to a homeless person’s day. Simple acts, like offering to buy someone their preferred meal or snack from the shop down the road, perhaps sharing that granola bar packed in your bag, or giving someone your substantial leftovers rather than let the restaurant throw them out, can make a world of difference for someone without the means to purchase a meal.

The next time you’re dining at a restaurant, think twice about those leftovers because they may just make someone’s day.

 

Haley Allaben

Communications Intern