Miles for Refugees

Throughout September, people across the country walked, ran, cycled, and even skateboarded, to raise money for the Red Cross Miles for Refugees appeal.

Here in the Diocese of Leicester, Rachael and Deb from Loughborough, clocked up more than 130 miles between them as they walked and ran to support refugees, people seeking asylum and vulnerable migrants in the UK.

Rachael is well known at her parish church of All Saints with Holy Trinity where her own artistic creation was installed earlier in the year. 

Rachael and WillowShe took on the challenge of a whopping 108 miles - the distance from Calais to London - while Deb chose 22 miles, which is the length of the English Channel.

They both exceeded these distances, finding precious time around their work and busy lives, to shine a light on the dangers and difficulties these vulnerable refugees face.

Deb has worked with refugees for more than 20 years and is currently supporting unaccompanied asylum seeking children and young adults in Leicestershire. Every day she learns of the trauma these people face, the dangerous journeys they make to flee their home land and the atrocities they encounter along the way.  

“We read about these things and they might seem abstract and distant, but I work with refuges and asylum seekers here, in our parish,” explains Deb. “People don’t come here on a whim. They arrive traumatised by their experiences, and yet they have the spirit to do well, to make a life for themselves and contribute towards the country they’ve landed in.”

The money Rachael and Deb have raised between them – which currently stands at around £800 - will be going to UK asylum seekers, to pay for things such as basic hygiene packs, essentials to stay fit and healthy living in basic digs, transport to get to meetings to see lawyers and solicitors, and mobile phones to keep them in touch with their families.

DebDeb says she found the challenge a really positive experience and walked her miles using the daily commute time she has gained by working from home. She explains: “I’m not good at stillness, so I found walking a good opportunity to listen to God and reflect on the journeys of refugees and the great work of the Red Cross. I know I see God in the struggles, suffering and the successes of the refugees I work with.”  

Rachael picked up a cough about half way through the month, which meant she wasn’t feeling great and halted progress as she waited for the results of a Coronavirus test, but she still managed to smash her impressive goal of 108 miles – that’s an average of 3.6 miles a day. She ran with her dog, Willow.

She says: “The last kilometre of any run was always me thinking: ‘Look, I’m going home to a shower, a cup of tea or pizza, or whatever, and the people I’m doing this for don’t have anything like that. They have lost family members and fled war zones and experienced violence and exploitation.’

“God was definitely in the last mile - I was running and praying for just that tiny bit more energy and thanking God for my body being strong enough to finish this challenge. 

“But wider than that, I think my heart for refugees is from God. I just can’t stand exclusion.

“People say we would all be refugees, but for the Grace of God, but I don’t think that is right. I am not a free British woman with a steady income and a reasonably healthy family because of God’s grace, because that suggests that God has less grace for the teenage boy clinging to a dinghy in the English Channel then for me.

“Refugees and asylum seekers are refugees and asylum seekers because the globe has manifestly failed to love others as we would be loved.
“It’s that simple. It’s the greatest commandment next to loving God and I don’t believe we can do the latter without doing the former. And I don’t think we have done that until every displaced person has dignity and safety restored to them.”

It’s not too late to sponsor Rachael and Deb:

For more info about how British Red Cross help refugees:

If you want to read more, check out our own information about asylum seekers and refugees from the diocesan Social Responsibility Panel these websites and charities:


First published on: 20th October 2020

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