Running the London Marathon for Shelter brings together two things that are important to me: running and housing.
Despite hating most exercise as a child, I’ve somehow ended up running half marathons in my 40s. I enjoy the runner’s high, the peace and quiet away from the demands of work and children, and the justification for eating extra cake. I even got the foolish idea that I’d like to run the London Marathon at some point. Then an internal email landed in my inbox at the end of January asking if anyone was interested in taking Shelter’s last place in the 2019 marathon. I was signed up within 24 hours and ‘at some point’ became ‘in three months time’.
I’m a solicitor at Shelter, so I see the devastating effects that homelessness and poor housing have on ordinary people every day. Children in overcrowded and poor quality temporary accommodation; vulnerable adults turned away by homeless services; families facing eviction due to welfare benefit issues; tenants living with leaks, damp, broken boilers and so on. I’ve seen the anxiety and distress this causes, and the impact it has on people’s family lives, welfare, education and careers. And while the team are committed to helping as many clients as possible find a way out of the situations they’ve found themselves in, we can never help everyone who needs it.
This is why Shelter is committed to more than just helping individuals. As an organisation, we campaign to change laws and systems to prevent people needing our help to begin with. We campaign to increase the legal protections people have and we campaign to increase access to housing advice, so that everyone who needs advice and assistance can get it promptly and effectively.
Knowing that I’m running to raise funds for Shelter has given me the motivation to reach the finish line. One month into training, I picked up an injury. Despite physio, special exercises, swimming and cycling, I’ve not managed to run more than five miles since then – and every stride hurts.
I’m not quite sure how I’m going to manage 26.2 miles. If I wasn’t running for Shelter, I would’ve quit. But I know that while I can go back to my safe, comfortable home after the race, that isn’t an option for hundreds of thousands of people. At the end of the day, these are the people I’m running for, and I can’t give up.
Shelter relies on the support of thousands of people like Nicola who fundraise for us. If you’re motivated to raise money for Shelter, there are lots of event you could get involved in.
Update: Nicola ran the marathon in 5 hours and 16 minutes, breaking her personal best