The start of the new year normally causes people to make resolutions – get fitter, lose weight, read more, learn a new skill, drink less, etc. Like the rest of you, I’ve been there and got the t-shirt. But this year, I already have my 2020 challenge. I’m running the London marathon in April and I’m beginning to realise the enormity of the task. Having covered few miles in 2019 due to a bad ankle injury, I got started by downloading the BBC’s “couch to 5k” app in November and have just finished the 9 week course. In the office, Annabel and Adrian both raved about it and I can see why. It was a huge blessing as it motivated me to get out at least 3 times a week and literally go from sitting on the couch to running 5k with relative ease.
Progress has been encouraging – from a virtual standstill I’m now able to run 8 miles, I’m following a 16 week “beginners marathon” training plan and am bang on course for the big day. I have entered the Bideford half marathon in March and hope to take part in the Looe 10 miler later this month if I can secure a place. My physio has given me some simple exercises to strengthen my dodgy ankle.. and fix a new complaint in the other leg which had been compensating for the weakness. Our bodies are complicated things! I’ve had my gait analysed by the club captain of my local running club and he has taught me how to run more efficiently – all with the goal of completing the London course. The basics are in place, it’s now the slog to increase the miles, keep up the exercise and just maybe improve my diet.
The parallels with our journey to become a bank continue to show themselves. Over the past couple of months we have engaged with potential technical partners, talked to potential investors, refined our customer and product propositions and conducted some in-depth target market research. We’re putting the building blocks in place in order to make it to the start line.
I’m running to raise money for my part time employer – Christians Against Poverty, a debt advice charity. Many of my clients are being affected by punitive overdraft charges and branches disappearing from our rural high streets. SWM really could be an answer to help people caught in these situations. Over the past few weeks, I have been able to support my first client in becoming debt free and work with another who has been at risk of having his home repossessed. It’s vital and rewarding work.
You can support me here.
I split my week, working three days for SWM and two days for a charity called Christians Against Poverty (CAP). Modern poverty is real, with millions locked in its miserable grip. CAP help people who have often suffered multiple life traumas. Family illness, bereavement, relationship breakdown and poor mental health are some of the causes that can trigger an unstoppable spiral into debt and poverty. Nationally, 37% tell us they were afraid to leave the house before they got help from CAP whilst 35% have considered or attempted suicide as a way out of debt. You can find out more about CAP at www.capuk.org .
I run a CAP debt centre which is a free, non-profit making service funded by donations and grants. This new centre is a partnership between a group of local churches in and around Liskeard & Looe in Cornwall - it started helping people in April 2019, the same month that I started working for SWM.
We help people by giving advice on budgeting & money management, taking over contact with their creditors and working towards them becoming debt free. In my first few months, clients have told me how their outlook has changed by getting control of their situation and having a plan to work with going forward. One young family were living with their curtains permanently closed, due to the fear of bailiffs. After an afternoon preparing an income and expenditure statement, calling creditors and making arrangements, their three young children are now able to play in their front room in natural light without fear of who might knock at the door. It’s a privilege to play a small part in making lives better.
During the summer I heard that CAP had some charitable entries into the 2020 London marathon. They asked people to apply and said they would award the places to those they thought made a good case to have a place. I have done a little running in the past and was looking for an excuse to get into shape and lose a few pounds, especially after I badly twisted my ankle (running!) back in March. So I entered thinking in all reality they’d never pick me – I never win competitions... CAP called my bluff!
I’ll be pounding the streets of Liskeard this Winter in earnest preparation for the run next April, all in aid of the wonderful work that CAP does. I’ll need to be prepared - I’m going to have to train, watch my diet, find sponsorship, find running buddies, prepare a really long Spotify playlist, get the right running gear, make arrangements for the big day, etc. Oh - and still find time to work two jobs, be a good father/husband/son/friend!
It struck me that preparing for the marathon is quite like our journey in opening a new mutual bank. It will be challenging, exciting and rewarding - and I can’t wait to get started. I’ll keep you updated with my progress via a blog on the website and some regular updates on our social media pages.
If you would like to sponsor Darren's marathon run for Christians Against Poverty then you can do so by clicking here.
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