We caught up with Hugh Brasher, the Event Director behind The Virgin Money London Marathon to find out more about the challenge and how you can get involved.
What problems are charities facing as a result of COVID-19?
UK charities are facing a £4bn shortfall because of the impact of COVID-19 according to the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) CEO Karl Wilding.
The reality of this is that there are charities currently in real trouble and who need our help.
This is why we have created The 2.6 Challenge and why our slogan is ‘Help Save the UK charities’. It really is that important.
Are there any specific types of UK charities that are more in need, such as smaller, less well-known organisations?
All charities have been impacted by COVID-19 just like all of society has been. Many charities rely on mass-participation events, such as the Virgin Money London Marathon, for income and these have all been either postponed or cancelled. Last year, for example, the Virgin Money London Marathon alone raised £66.4m for charities. But the smaller charities are finding it particularly tough.
Recent research has shown that 1/3 of small charities could be forced to shut down in the next 3-6 months due to funding drying up from the societal effects of this pandemic. However, The 2.6 Challenge is more than a campaign to raise funds, it is a campaign to highlight what is happening to charities across the UK, which play such a crucial role in the fabric of our society. We hope the message that we need to come together to save our UK charities, will resonate long after The 2.6 Challenge.
What’s the most inspiring challenge idea you’ve heard of so far?
There are so many inspiring challenges that it is hard to single out one. Our aim for The 2.6 Challenge was to get as many charities involved, as many household names involved and as many people involved. But I must say that even we did not anticipate the response we have had. It has been incredible. So, for me, that has been the most inspiring thing - seeing the nation come together - from superstar celebrities to young children – to help save the UK’s charities.
I think the best of Great Britain’s society is shown whenever we have our backs to the wall. People have been in their houses now for over a month and I think many of us feel helpless. While we understand the necessity to stay at home to save the NHS, I believe that many of us want to do something additional to help those in greatest need. The 2.6 Challenge allows us to get active and to Help Save the UK’s charities which play such an important part in our society and whose help we will need even more as society adapts to the ‘new normal’, whatever that maybe.
What’s the most unique idea you’ve heard so far?
Well there are plenty to choose from, but I would say for sheer originality it has to be nine-year-old Melissa who, on Sunday, will sit in a bath of cornflakes and milk for 2.6 hours. This challenge is particularly powerful as Melissa’s mum is a nurse at Lindsey Lodge Hospice in Scunthorpe which is the charity Melissa is raising money for, so we really do wish her all the best. Her target was to raise £260 and she has already exceeded that before she has even stepped into her bath!
Is there a cut-off date for completing the challenge?
There is no cut off. The campaign will begin officially on Sunday which is the 26 April and would have been the date of the 40th edition of the Virgin Money London Marathon. We hope it will continue to snowball from there.
How can people get involved?
I would encourage anyone that has not thought about it yet to devise a challenge based on either 26 or 2.6, give it a go and get your friends and family involved too.
The beauty of The 2.6 Challenge is that it is totally inclusive and the challenge could be anything, from kicking a football up in your garden 26 times to riding a bike 26 km every day for 10 days which Welsh rugby legend Jonathan Davies is doing. The only caveat is that the challenge must be undertaken with the current government guidance on exercise and social distancing in mind.
Once you have come up with a challenge then please choose the charity you wish to donate or fundraise for - or you can donate to the central Help Save the UK Charities fund. Click the button below for more information, or text 5, 10 or 20 to 70165 in order to donate £5, £10 or £20.