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Making innovation work for good. T:@inspirechilli

Saturday 1 February 2014

Running for never

‘Running away together, running away forever…’

Words from the (in)famous Brotherhood of Man hit that haunt me, not with the idea of eloping from reality, but the image of charity marathon runners and the causes they are prepared to hurt for each year.

I usually don’t get too excited by an email asking me to sponsor another runner for another cause. This week was slightly different.  The runner in question was the Chief Executive of Leap Confronting Conflict. If you don’t know them, Leap is an authentic, well run and inclusive youth charity, with a value base very different from the mainstream brands.  One of the Advantaged Thinkers in the pack.  In their own language, ‘Leap supports young people struggling with conflict (gangs, weapons, in prison, excluded from school) to transform that conflict in to positive activity, to reduce violence in their communities and to help lead our society. The young people we work with are amazing.’  While impressed with the challenge, it struck me that actually running such a charity ‘the right way’ was its own mental, emotional and physical marathon.  In which case, why weren’t we being asked to sponsor that? Why must a Chief Executive have to run a more publically acceptable form of ‘marathon’ as well, just to get money to invest in the work our society depends on?

Then I had a vision – arguably a nightmare – of all the normal brigade of celebs, well-to-dos, and middle classes looking for a new personal challenge, dressed in shorts and bursting into the doors of my workplace to help run the marathon of running a charity.   Sponsored to achieve various charity marathon challenges (posted up to choose from via our Run-a-Charity app of course), such as: how to prove your impact using tools that don’t reflect what you do; how to build a sustainable future using short-term funding; how to help young people navigate through a policy system designed to fail their every step; how to enable poorly paid over worked and under-appreciated staff on the frontline to pick up the fragments our society disposes of.  Thinking about all the time it takes to train for a marathon there would be more than enough hours to prepare easy-win solutions for the big Run-a-Charity day. Even better, if we could get the people causing some of the social problems that charity is trying to resolve, to come and actually run one, they might see how the true measure of what they do exists in the life of others they don’t understand. Expect moments of confession by the water-cooler as hubris finally melts with the polar ice cap.  

Ultimately, I am something of a 'rebbit' - a rebal rabbit running to get away with saying these things while I can. It won't last. The farmer’s gun isn’t far behind. Every rebel runs the line of a different race, knowing that the only finish line is the end of something or the end of themselves.  They don’t want to go home in foil, a sticker with a fastest time on the fridge, so they can come back to do it next year. They can't keep hiding in their hole. They want out.

Looking at the repeated programmes and campaigns that seem to do more to keep their organisations running than to stop our need for them, I really wonder what we have become. A society in perpetual motion, in perpetual denial. The fact we have a marathon to run for young people at all, after all these years, all these initiatives, all this knowledge, all our social wealth, is something to do something about. It’s certainly every reason why we should sponsor someone who is trying to run two marathons at once because, like me, they want the race to cease. We all should.
Sponsor Leap's Chief Executive Thomas Lawson to run the Brighton Marathon here

Find out how the race can cease in The Adventures of Tata-man, a performance of ideas at The Cockpit, Marylebone, on 6th August at 7.30pm. Tickets now on sale HERE

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