At the end of March I am leaving to walk across Europe to Istanbul and am using the opportunity to raise some much needed money for a great refugee charity, Help Refugees. If you would like to donate you can do so here: https://mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/janpiotrowski1
The idea to walk to Istanbul came to me a few years ago, in the location of all the best and worst ideas- a pub. All I know at this point is that I’m leaving laden with a tent and a heavy load of optimistic naivety, and I hope to arrive in Asia about six months and four million steps later. First stop will be Brighton, walking along the South Downs Way. After this 70-mile warm-up, the real start to my journey will begin. A final few days fine tuning and rest before leaving the UK on a ferry bound for Dieppe. From there who knows? A rough route in my head will take me through France, Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzoveginia, Serbia and Bulgaria. But even the most tentatively vague plans change so who knows where I will end up and for how long. Im open to suggestions so anyone who knows these countries do pipe up.
The route may be vague and planning suspect but there is one thing I am sure about. That I am very lucky to be in a position to do this trip. To have the choice to voluntarily displace myself for pure enjoyment when hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people are forced to make similar trips to flee war, poverty and persecution is a real privilege. I hesitated for a long time whether to use this opportunity to raise money for charities as my initial motivation for the walk was a personal one and had nothing to do with fundraising. But against this backdrop of suffering, to waste any opportunity to help feels like taking this privilege for granted. So I am asking for your help to give what you can. I have chosen to support Help Refugees, a really fantastic funder of grassroots projects that directly help refugees – from filling bellies in camps across northern France to funding community spaces in Athens. With 96% of donations spent directly on projects, Help Refugees have avoided the spiralling admin costs of larger organisations, so you know that your money is making the biggest impact.
I will also likely be passing refugees going the other way and I would really like to be in a position to help them directly. While charities and organisations can be great at providing much needed help, no-one knows the needs of refugees better than refugees themselves. So I intend to create a pot to dip into along the way. Maybe it will be a hot meal. Or a new sleeping bag. Or a bus ticket. If I can give some money to help people get these things I will do so at any opportunity and if possible continue to help them in the future. To this end, I’m going to put £300 of my own money into the pot but it would be great for that to grow.
I cannot raise money for that through this website as I can only use registered charities so have set up another fundraising page here: https://chuffed.org/project/four-million-steps-for-refugees I know that this requires trust in my judgement, but if you did like the idea of this, then please give what you can as I think this direct way of giving can have the biggest impact.
I also plan to record my meetings with the refugees I cross paths with, maybe a short vignette of their life or a photo to get a sense of the people your donations might help. If this interests you send me an email and I will try to send these out when I can.
Thanks for considering supporting this hair-brained scheme.