Thu. Mar 21st, 2024

Kingston resident embarks on year-long marathon challenge for charity

By Josh Smith Feb 22, 2024
Steven Ramek after the Goring Gap Ultra Marathon 2023

Kingston resident Steven Ramek is planning to run 12 marathons in 12 months in aid of the charity Kingston Churches Action on Homelessness.

He will run a different marathon every month throughout the year.

“It’s a good charity,” Ramek said. “Whatever town or city you go to you see so many people there who are desperate through no fault of their own and I think it’s a good cause to raise money for.”

So far Ramek has completed January’s marathon, running the Phoenix Unicorns Run in Sunbury with a time of three hours and 10 minutes.

His next challenge is the Big Mud Trail marathon on February 25, then the Rome marathon in March, the Blackpool marathon in April and the Goring Gap ultra marathon in May.

“It’s making these sorts of charities more high profile so that people can understand what they’re doing,” he said.

“People think a homeless charity is just going to give people somewhere to sleep, but it’s not just that, it’s giving advice, talking to them, giving them outlets to see a GP or a dentist.”

Ramek is not just running for the cause, he is also personally donating £100 for every marathon that he completes.

He hopes that people will do the same by contributing money throughout the year, instead of just giving a one-off donation.

“I hope to see if I can get other people to try and match that individually or within groups to make it more of a challenge, that’s my goal,” he said.

Kingston Churches Action on Homelessness have seen a 30% increase in their services from November 2022 to November 2023 with 436 people seeking support from the charity.

Of those people, 241 had already experienced homelessness.

Dan Whittingham, Marketing and Communications Manager at Kingston Churches Action on Homelessness, said: “There are various factors, chief among those is the state of the economy with the cost of living, the prices keep going up and up and that makes it even more make or break.

“If someone is paying a mortgage or paying rent and then they lose their income, now it is easier than ever to go into a housing crisis.”

Similarly, YMCA St Paul’s Group, a charity working across Southwest, South, East and West London, provided accommodation to 1,595 throughout last year.

Of those 1,595, the charity was able to help 388 people successfully transition to independent living.

Within Kingston, YMCA Surbiton supports over 100 people every night who are experiencing homelessness, including supporting rough sleepers.

Martin Bushaway, Progression Coach at YMCA St Paul’s Group, said: “As rent prices become more and more unaffordable and a lack of social housing availability across the capital, it’s no surprise that the number of people finding themselves homeless is increasing.”

Along with visible street homelessness, there is also the problem of hidden homelessness which is often not accounted for in official statistics.  

Hidden homelessness can include people who are staying with friends, sofa surfing or sleeping on public transport and by not including them in official figures these people can sometimes find themselves overlooked, Bushaway explained.

“To prevent and end homelessness we need an increased supply of access to truly and, most importantly, genuinely affordable housing.

“Homelessness services, like YMCA Surbiton, do an amazing job of supporting people who need extra support to allow them to live independently, but if there isn’t anywhere for them to move on to, you’ll never eradicate homelessness. Housing is a basic human right,” Bushaway said.

To support homeless services in Kingston, Bushaway urges people to donate to their local homeless services, whether that is by giving money, volunteering, or donating to a local food bank such as Sainsbury’s in Surbiton which supports YMCA Surbiton.

To donate to Ramek’s cause, more information can be found here: Steve Ramek to Run 12 Marathons in 2024! – JustGiving

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