A group of wonderful volunteers and myself were able to support Shelter’s Urban Rush marathon by helping with the morning preparation before the event kicked off; we-the volunteers-cheered the runners on, handing out necessary refreshment, held conversations with the runners while getting their running kits ready for them.
Just as we emerged from St. Paul’s station, the volunteers and I had been awestruck by the spectacular view of the morning sunlight cloaking St. Paul’s cathedral. But we were no closer to finding the volunteers’ stand. After several minutes of frantically looking at the maps, we had managed to locate the volunteers’ stand. It was conveniently placed between the cathedral and the Millennium Bridge. Grabbing the inflatable thunder-sticks and cow-bells, we were prepared to make a lot of noise; for the people running the Urban Rush of course. Whilst some of us got prepared to cheer the runners on, other volunteers in our group had armed themselves with water bottles to pass on to the runners. We all took our positions.
Several minutes had passed. No runners were in sight. Just for a little practice, we had started to cheer the passing tourists and local workers. Though they may have been pleasantly surprised, they did not show it. Suddenly, a great influx of exhausted, but determined runners came charging through the columns. With all our energy, we had cheered them on as much as we could. I may have been imaging this, but the runners had seemed to leave our cheering column with an extra oomph of speed. Most of the runners had been carrying a great assortment of water bottles and hydration packs. Despite this, we had managed to give out most of the water bottles to the ones who were running empty.
As the last runners trickled through our cheering column, we had all started to gather back at the volunteering stand. Slowly deflating our thunder-sticks and putting down the cow-bells, we had talked about how amazing it would be to participate in such an event in the future.
To some, these actions may seem quite trivial but being a part of an event, where thousands of people have given up months of their time for a charitable cause, is a much greater responsibility. Shelter’s Urban Rush in particular, is an immensely important charitable event as it works to combat poverty and homelessness in urban centres. For those of us at Queen Mary, a university situated in one of the poorest boroughs in London, there is an understanding of how necessary these events are.
From bad accommodation to homelessness, the charity Shelter helps a broad spectrum of people struggling with housing matters. Shelter have an amazing track record of helping millions of people by providing crucial facilities such as face-to-face services, telephone assistance, online advice and legal support on an annual basis. Homelessness is an issue that is widely prevalent in the UK, with over 300,000 people being homeless. Despite the alarming statistics, due to events such as the Urban Rush hosted by Shelter, people are becoming increasingly aware of the disastrous effects of homelessness in addition to raising money to combat homelessness. Regardless of the positive outlook, it is essential that people like you and I act immediately. So why not give volunteering a go? Take a look at the volunteering section of the QMSU website to find amazing opportunities to help out your community. – Amie Commins and Athavan Anbalakan