UTC Warrington’s Assistant Principal for Personal Development Joe Varey has returned from Uganda after another inspirational fundraising mission.
After conquering the summit of Kilamanjaro at the end of 2018, Joe took part in this latest challenge to raise money for PAYPRUS – the national charity dedicated to the prevention of young suicide.
Accompanied by a huge bag of donated trainers, which were distributed as part of the overall relief effort, Joe spent seven days in Uganda. Initially, spending his time supporting a voluntary project in Masaka, one of the largest towns in central Uganda, he then joined 3,000 runners who took part in the gruelling task of completing The Uganda Marathon.
Joe aged 40, had the opportunity to work on many projects while he was out there, firstly a project with Ddembe House, working with street children to give them opportunities for education and exploring their talents. Another project was Youth Vision, a charity established to help teenagers in Uganda set up new businesses; the volunteers worked with them on a business mentoring scheme.
Volunteers also worked with a recycling company set up to combat the high plastic pollution in Uganda and in particular, a young man who was trying to convert the plastic into paving steps instead of using concrete.
Joe worked with a charity that worked on sustainable farming for families that whilst they could not afford to send their children to school, sustainable farming allows them to survive off the land.
The final project that Joe and other volunteers worked on was organising a sports day for local children at a primary school where the team had been installing water butts and improving the school sports facilities.
The level of poverty in Uganda was one of the biggest challenges that Joe had to understand, saying that “seeing lots of happy children, despite the poverty, is something that I will never forget. Also, the realisation of how lucky I am, whilst it costs $225 to send a child to school for a year in Uganda in England we have all of this education for free.”
Liam Durkin, PAPYRUS fundraising officer said: “Our supporters and fundraisers provide a huge part of our income, which helps us to reach more people across the UK, supporting young people at risk of suicide.”
“We’d like to say an enormous ‘thank you’ to Joe for the all hard work he has put in and his generosity.”
Suicide is the biggest killer of young people under the 35 in the UK; every year over 1,600 young people take their own life. PAPYRUS is the national charity dedicated to the prevention of young suicide. Its HOPELineUK confidential helpline provides practical advice and support to young people with thoughts of suicide and those concerned about a young person who may have thoughts of suicide. HOPELineUK is staffed by trained professionals and offers a phone, text and email service. PAPYRUS also offers training, delivers regional outreach programmes, and campaigns and influences national policy.
Joe said: “Supporting PAPYRUS is very important to me as I lost one of my close friends to suicide two years ago and want to raise awareness especially around supporting young people’s mental health. I’m looking forward to raising money every way I can with the support of the staff and students at UTC Warrington.”
Joe has been continuing his work in inspiring the next generation by talking to pupils at UTC Warrington about his fundraising efforts and the reasons behind them. He believes this will help them understand how crucial it is to be aware of everyone’s mental health and get their support to help spread the word and raise more money.
Joe commented: “Raising money and awareness for charities such as PAPYRUS is a huge driver in taking on challenges such as this. It’s important to be able to share this with students here at UTC Warrington and it’s a privilege to see how engaged, motivated and supportive the students are when I talk to them about the background to the fundraising projects and about how they can raise awareness and support in their own way.”
The Uganda Marathon works within the United Nations Global Goals framework, with a “Hand Up, Not Hand Out” philosophy. Working in partnership with the local community of Masaka; identifying and supporting grass roots projects.
They work towards sustainable development and growth, and endeavour to empower the local community to work together for positive change.