Well it is actually two ideas that have coalesced into a slightly bigger one. Over the last month or two I have watched with a mix of sadness and relief as one by one the festivals I was due to steward this summer were cancelled. I now have a very bare looking summer. I also know that the time I happily give up to volunteer alongside other Oxfam Stewards helps generate substantial contributions from festival organisers to support Oxfam’s work, the absence of which leaves a big hole at a time when Oxfam and its partners in the field are particularly stretched. Plus I need to do some exercise!
Enough preamble. So what is the ‘big idea’ I keep mentioning?
Encouraged by lighter traffic and the sight of other ‘older’ cyclists on the road, I have decided to forsake my little scooter and start cycling to work again. The slight twist is that to keep me motivated and give me something to ponder as I pedal, I am going to keep a record of the miles covered and see how many of the places I have lived I can virtually visit (with the aid of Garmin and Google Maps). As a modest contribution to the lost income, my plan is also to set aside the money saved on petrol each week (about £6) to donate to Oxfam. If you’d like to join me for a few miles – or just make a small donation – that’d be lovely too. But no pressure. I know everyone is a bit overcommitted at the moment.
There is a logic to my decision to visit homes and to raise money for Oxfam.
Why Homes? Because I have always felt lucky in the places I have called home and the people with whom I have lived. I know that is not the case for everyone, particularly at the moment.
Why Oxfam? For the last 18 years I have volunteered as an Oxfam Steward at between one and three music festivals each year. I get to go to festivals, be part of the fantastic Oxfamily of festival staff and volunteers, returning and new, and in the process help raise money for Oxfam. This year the festival team was on track to place over 7000 volunteers with music festivals over the summer and in the process raise more than £1,000,000 for Oxfam. That is a lot of lost income.
Enough for now. The main purpose of this post was really just to go public, to make it harder for me to renege when the weather turns bad! I’ll set up a Just Giving page in the next week for anyone interested. I’ll also post occasional updates on progress – here and on Facebook.
I actually started cycling at the beginning of the week, so am virtually approaching my first home in Bethnal Green where the photo below was taken. Fortunately I have learnt a thing or two about balance and bike maintenance since then. It didn’t seem to worry me that my tricycle was without a back tyre. A lot less hair now, but hopefully the same level of determination!