This Year I plan to attempt 12 labours;12 difficult challenges to raise money for IntoUniversity – a charity very close to my heart, partly because I truly believe in its cause, and partly because after months of applications they were the only people prepared to employee me!
I grew up in rural North Devon, an area which combines very low aspirations, high levels of depravation and unemployment. Going to a state school and then FE College as a special educational needs child (I am severely dyslexic with associated phonological processing problems) my success and ambition was largely down to the incredible support of my parents. My mum in particular waged an unending war against teachers who expected failure and myself who was at times simply a pain in the arse. She and me won that war (of course we did, she’s the most terrifying adversary anyone could face) and I made it to the University of Oxford to read Politics, Philosophy and Economics.
My own experience is the main reason I work for IntoUniversity, I know that aspiration and support is the difference between education being a liberating life long love and a confidence destroying experience. IntoUniversity is a home from home for the children it supports – it does what my parents did for me.
Among Britain’s poorest families, only 1 in 40 students will progress to a top university compared with 1 in 4 from the country’s wealthiest families. What’s more, children from disadvantaged backgrounds with low levels of educational attainment are almost five times more likely to live in poverty in adulthood.
Our society needs the best talent regardless of backgrounds to get the opportunity to shape our society, education can be that great equaliser and IU ensures that ALL can access it. If you want to know more about IntoUniversity and what our programmes do see the bigger description below.
The Big Half – a half marathon along the route of the London Marathon through the streets of London
Blenheim Triathlon – a sprint distance triathlon (Swim, Bike, Run) set in the stunning grounds of Blenheim Palace
Etape Caledonia – 81-mile cycle race through the spectacular Scottish Highlands. Consisting of rolling hills and forest-lined roads around Loch Rannoch, Loch Tummel, combined with the demanding, twisting climb of Mt Schiehallion (1,083m)
North Devon Marathon - One of the most challenging and visually stunning cross country marathons in the UK, this race follows the North Devon coastal path as Exmoor comes crashing down to meet the wild Atlantic
Hever Castle Half Iron Man – named ‘The Gauntlet’ this challenge will force triathletes to pit their wits against a 1.9km lake swim, a 90km bike and a 21km off-road run
Launch to Lundy – a challenging kayak paddle to Lundy Island in the Irish Sea battling the 4th fastest tidal race in in world
Man vs Lakes – a 28 mile run, swim and kayak race through the Lake District. Starting out with an audacious and surreal crossing of the quicksands of Morecambe Bay, before heading north through mountainous country on a rollercoaster running route that brings you to the foot of England’s most famous Lake. tackling short wades, swims,* slides, jumps and an amazingly bold floating assault course. A trademark Man Vs “Vertical Kilometre” will push those quads to breaking point and help to rack up a whopping 4200ft of ascent before you psych yourself up for a “Swallows and Amazons” rope swing suspended from a crane. A final push takes you further in to the heart of Lakeland for a serene kayak loop on Lake Coniston just before you finish
Coast2Coast – 192 mile walk across the breadth of Britain… how long will it take?
Strong and Stable – a 5-minute plank and 100 clap press-ups… a challenge that lives up to its name
Man vs Mountain – 22 miles, 5055ft of assent and descent… This legendary mountain adventure race starts at sea level in the stunning Caernarfon Castle and weaves its way to the summit of Snowdon and down the other side into Dinorwic Quarry where an array of punishing obstacles, including the infamous Vertical Kilometre, await
Ride Across Britain - 969 miles, 8 days… a cycle from the most south westerly point of Cornwall to the most north easterly tip of Scotland
You choose – a final challenge to be determined by the public… more information to come
IntoUniversity aims to address this pressing issue by working within disadvantaged communities in order to raise the aspirations of children and young people most at risk of educational failure. Our local learning centres deliver an integrated programme of long-term academic and pastoral support, designed to improve the life chances of children aged seven through to adulthood.
IntoUniversity began as a local community project in 2002 and has since expanded across the country, serving over 60,000 children and young people. IntoUniversity currently operates 24 centres in London, Oxford, Brighton, Southampton, Bristol, Nottingham and Leeds. This academic year, two new centres opened in Liverpool and Clacton.
Despite this success, we still only reach a small number of the children who need our help. At our existing centres demand is high with significant waiting lists in some areas. Nationally, underachievement amongst disadvantaged students is high. We can and must do more to address Britain’s opportunity gap and increase the life chances of our poorest and most vulnerable young people.