Participants in the heat

16 pictures of inaugural YMCA DownsLink Challenge

More than 140 participants took on 16 miles on the Downs Link pathway between Horsham and Shoreham to raise money for it’s namesake, YMCA DownsLink Group, which works to put homeless young people back on the path to independence.

By Mark Dunford
Thursday, 22nd July 2021, 10:13 am

Every night the charity gives a safe home to 763 homeless young people across Sussex and Guildford. Currently the fundraising total is just £409 pounds away from the target of £15,000. (

The ‘Challenge’ element of the YMCA DownsLink Challenge really came to pass with the sun beating down, but the participants took it in their strides (literally) with lots of smiley faces. 16 miles later and the smiles were still there – although slightly wearier.

The youngest participant was just 8 years old and was still full of beans at the end. The walkers were joined by Simon, who lived at the charity’s YMCA Crawley Foyer for 4 years. He’s now a support worker himself, working with people with autism. He walked alongside his former support worker and YMCA DownsLink Group, project manager, Sharon Rawcliffe, who he said had “changed his life” whilst he lived in supported accommodation.

One amazing story is that of Alice. Alice lived with at YMCA DownsLink Group’s Horsham Foyer, 24-hour supported accommodation when she was just 17 years old. Thanks to being given a stable home and the help she received to get back into education and training she is now a youth advice worker for the charity and is studying for a Masters in social work. She ran the 16 miles in an amazingly quick time of just 2:45:03 and has raised £500 for the charity in the process.

The charity was delighted to have several corporate teams taking part, including Oban International, iCrossing, West and Berry Accountants, Lobster Recruitment and JACE training. They also had lots of community support from local businesses on the route.

Some of YMCA DownsLink Group’s current residents also helped all along the way, and current young resident, Bobby, gave out the medals at the end.

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