Cafod's online run raises thousands

By Colette Byrne

How do you organise a charity fun run in this time of social distancing? This was the challenge facing the Catholic aid agency Cafod before Christmas. Unable to stage its annual Christmas event at Wavertree Athletics Centre, where it usually takes place each 27 December, Cafod organisers found a solution by making the fun run a virtual event, with each runner asked to take a photograph of themselves in action – and it proved so popular that runners have already raised £20,000. 

Colette Byrne, Cafod’s community participation co-ordinator for Liverpool, explained: ‘As with most things in 2020, we decided to take the event online. We asked people to run or walk five kilometres in their area and we encouraged them to set up a JustGiving page attached to our Fun Run campaign.’ Colette herself created a JustGiving page for the South Liverpool pastoral area as a way of getting parishes and individuals to fundraise and even run together – albeit staying socially distant. 

Hundreds of people took part in this unique edition of the fun run, which first took place in the 1980s. Participants included Stuart Brandwood who, 48 hours ahead of schedule, ran from his home in Hunts Cross to St Francis of Assisi parish church in Garston, where he helped serve the Christmas morning Mass. Writer Frank Cottrell Boyce, a keen supporter of the event, joined his family for a run along the promenade at Waterloo. He said: ‘It’s a brilliant race – it’s got very deep roots and is very connected to the community it serves.’ 

As well as the regular runners and Cafod supporters who took part, clergy from not just Liverpool but as far afield as Hampshire got their running shoes on too, and Colette said: ‘The great thing about this year’s event is that it gave people who can’t usually get to Wavertree the opportunity to participate. We had some new participating parishes from Warrington and Formby, for example. This gave Cafod the idea to promote the event nationally too.

‘Overall, we’re incredibly grateful to everybody who embraced this new way of working for this unusual year and who really joined in the spirit of the event,’ she added.Cafod simply couldn’t continue its vital work supporting people in some of the world’s poorest countries without your kind support and generosity.’
Next on Cafod’s agenda is its Lenten ‘Walk for Water’ campaign which invites people to walk – or even run –10,000 steps a day over the 40 days of Lent to raise funds to end water poverty. For more details, visit: https://walk.cafod.org.uk/

In these challenging times, Cafod has had to make some difficult decisions and its staff in Liverpool are now home-based meaning that the Volunteer Centre in Old Swan is permanently closed.