Lancashire Mind are overjoyed at the success of their Mental Elf 2020 challenge after having to move their biggest fundraising event of the year online.

The challenge not only tripled the amount raised in 2019 but nearly doubled the figure raised across the event's 7-year history. This is a much-needed boost to the charity's funds after income virtually halved in 2020 after almost all planned events were cancelled.

Usually a 5km fun run around Witton Park in Blackburn, this year’s Mental Elf was instead a collective effort to travel 3226km (2,005 miles) - the distance from Lancashire to Santa’s home in Lapland.

Thanks to activities including running, walking, cycling, outdoor swimming, horseback and even a danceathon, participants collectively logged 11,172.26 kilometres in total.

The virtual challenge allowed anyone to take part whenever and however they wanted between 1st and 12th December, resulting in the involvement of 222 individuals and seven Lancashire schools, totalling 1000 children with participants coming from right across the county.

Many of the participants went out every single day of the challenge and walked or ran significant distances, despite the often cold, wet and wintry conditions, and all in their Elf outfits.

Carol Graham and Sheralee Haddon walked and kept cheerful despite the rain

Commenting on what Mental Elf 2020 has meant to her, 66 year old Joan Jarnell from Clayton-le-Woods said: "I have really enjoyed being a part of this group and seeing how everyone has been doing and their lovely outfits! 

“It has inspired me to do more walking as I found it to be so good for my mental health and wellbeing. I would like to congratulate everyone who took part in Mental Elf to help this fantastic charity in this very difficult year."

Joan Jarnell relished the mental health benefits of the 12-day Mental Elf 2020 challenge

Lancashire Mind provides vital support for the people of Lancashire, from individual and group wellbeing coaching, to school programmes and community development as well as a varied array of training for workplaces. When the first lockdown happened in March 2020, the charity quickly adapted the delivery of these projects and services to online to ensure they were still able to reach and help the people of Lancashire.  

Emma Bateson, Fundraising Manager for Lancashire Mind, said: “Adapting Mental Elf to a virtual event was vital to ensuring that our flagship fundraising event could go ahead so that we could raise much needed income. We wanted to create something new and exciting whilst also retaining all the best bits from our much loved, supported and established event.

“But it wasn't just about hitting a fundraising target. It was about creating an event that provided people with the opportunity to improve their own wellbeing whilst doing something to help others. We wanted to give people something fun and positive to focus on and create an inclusive and supportive online community of people who share Lancashire Mind's vision.

James Jebson ran an astounding 10km every day of the challenge - with support from his daughter Isla (7) and son Rory (6)

“Throughout the challenge and afterwards we received so many messages from participants who had seen an improvement in their own wellbeing from being a part of the challenge and that is invaluable.

"We would like to thank every single person who participated in this year's event and all those who contributed to it and supported it. At a difficult and challenging time for many it has been incredible to see so much kindness and generosity from people across the county and to see such support for Lancashire Mind as we continue to work towards our vision of Mental Wellbeing for All. "

Many participants took part as a family - as did the Barker family: Ruth, Karl, Edward and Leo

Lancashire Mind is a company limited by guarantee (company number 3888655) and a registered charity in England and Wales (registered number 1081427) at 80-82 Devonshire Road, Chorley, Lancs, PR7 2DR. Lancashire Mind are registered with the Fundraising Regulator. For all enquiries, call us on 01257 231660.
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