Chichester lawyer and doctor raise £6,500 for Ukrainian charity by walking from London to West Wittering

The events in Ukraine over the last 16 months have been deeply moving and have led to many of us getting to know Ukrainians in our day-to-day lives. To this end, a Chichester lawyer and a doctor have recently completed a 90 mile trek to raise money for a Ukrainian charity dedicated to providing mental health support for Ukrainians in the UK.
Edward Cooke (right) with Dr Adrian Hamilton (left) and founder of Opora, Yegor Lanovenko (centre) outside the Shard in London at the start of Edward and Adrian’s walkEdward Cooke (right) with Dr Adrian Hamilton (left) and founder of Opora, Yegor Lanovenko (centre) outside the Shard in London at the start of Edward and Adrian’s walk
Edward Cooke (right) with Dr Adrian Hamilton (left) and founder of Opora, Yegor Lanovenko (centre) outside the Shard in London at the start of Edward and Adrian’s walk

In order to help Ukrainian people rebuilding their lives in the UK, at the end of May 2023 Chichester lawyer and mediator Edward Cooke and his friend Royal Naval doctor Adrian Hamilton embarked on a six-day, 90-mile charity walk, heading by foot, kayak and bike from the Shard in London to West Wittering beach, West Sussex to raise funds for Opora - a fantastic, UK-based Ukrainian charity.

Registered in the UK with the Charity Commission, Opora is unique. It provides practical support and guidance to Ukrainians displaced by the conflict in their country. Its support extends across a range of areas, from guidance on housing to finding work, setting up businesses and providing mental health support, largely delivered by Ukrainians in the UK for Ukrainians. Above all, its emphasis is on enabling the very many people who fled their homes with little more than a bag to build genuinely sustainable lives in the UK for as long as they are here.

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Although Opora is small, it has a big reach. It has a dedicated team of volunteers working largely online, plus two full-time paid employees. It has already made a big difference for so many people. You can find out more about it at opora.uk/

Prompted by a Ukrainian friend, Edward approached Opora managing director Stan Beneš about the walk. The result? The nearly 90 miles’ slog, largely on foot, but also by kayak and bike, has already raised around £6500 including gift aid for the charity. Excitingly, the funds are being earmarked to make a significant difference to the mental wellbeing of Ukrainians living in the UK.

Stan explains: “The past year has been incredibly traumatic for the Ukrainian population. There’s a need for Ukrainians to be able to access appropriate mental health resources which cater to their experiences, and are in a language in which they feel comfortable expressing themselves. We hope to provide a consistent and sustainable level of support in this area and to amplify this through our technology-focused approach. However, in order to be able to do this, we need to raise £30,000.”

Edward said: “Hopefully, we can raise enough to really boost mental health support for people living through the unimaginable horrors of war. We’re incredibly grateful for the generosity of our friends and colleagues so far … Every penny truly makes a difference to supporting the mental health of Ukrainians in the UK.”

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Edward and Adrian walked, as far as possible, along the old Roman Road, Stane Street from London to Chichester, but with a seven mile stretch on kayak via the River Arun and the final stretch via bike from Chichester to West Wittering on Salterns Way.

If you would like to support Opora, you can make a donation to Edward and Adrian’s trek at justgiving.com/page/shardtoshore

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