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Why am I hiking 268 miles?

Updated: Mar 12

Exactly 2 months to go before 'launch day' from Edale in Derbyshire! Excited? A little. Nervous? A lot! In fact, as the reality is starting to set in about what I've decided to do, it's all the more important for me to keep in mind my motivation for setting out on this journey.

Almost 7 years ago I joined In2Out and started learning about the young people who got sent to prison. What I found was at first heart-breaking, but then also immensely motivating - because I quickly saw in the work that In2Out did (at the time only with boys) a mentor could literally make the difference between them working their way through their early life traumas (which for many included their time in prison) and getting life back on track and making a go of it in the community...or a life of repeated offending and retraumatisation.

We often talk about the 'journey' our boys and girls are on. About the burdens they carry and the injuries they bear, the 'mountains' and obstacles they face and the lonely, confusing, hard slog that life can often feel for them. About the importance of keeping going, of celebrating achievements and the critical role that friends, family and allies (and mentors) play in sustaining and encouraging them along the way. And in amongst all that, the importance of finding their worth and identity as unique human beings, full of potential!

5 years ago I hiked the 192 miles from the west coast to the east coast of England to raise money and awareness for In2Out and our young peole. So the 10 year challenge had to be even greater. The Pennine Way will take me from roughly 30 miles north of HMYOI Werrington, near Stoke on Trent (where we plan to start taking new referrals from this year), north through the Peak District between Sheffield and Manchester, on past Leeds and Bradford, Bolton and Burnley, through the Yorkshire Dales and into the North Pennines, past the Lakes and Carlisle in the west and Teesside and Tyneside in the east, along Hadrian's Wall before the final push through Northumberland and across the border to Kirk Yetholm in Scotland. My plan is to take 15 days. I know I will have company for some of the way and at other times I will be alone. Either way, I will know why I am doing this.

So this is my commitment - to keep striving for better things for people like Kyle and Daisy, Aaron and Lucas. If that means 2 weeks of hardship and challenge for me, then so be it. Because if by doing so it means we can offer hope to just one more young person who is lost and doesn't know where to turn, then it will have been worth it. And if at the same time I can help others to have a greater understanding of the challenges these young people face and the places they often come from, then maybe the world will be a more compassionate place for wounded children to find their purpose and a home in.

You may not be able to join me physically on the journey up the spine of England, but I do invite you to journey with me via my regular updates and to support in whatever way you feel able. Please subscribe with your email address if you haven't already done so.

I believe that together we can do great and marvelous things that can start to bring amazing hope and transformation in our young people's lives! Ready?

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Wow Mark! It really is quite a long way isn’t it 😬

Thanks for setting the bar so high, you’re an inspiration

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