‘It’s a matter of smiling and enthusiasm’ Jo Mortimer, Rag Publicity Officer.
RAG (Raise and Give) is a fundraising organisation that has been active in Manchester since 1965, and year after year raises thousands of pounds for charity by sending students out on hair-raising adventures across the country and the world.
I caught up with Jo Mortimer the publicity officer who explained how RAG works, and some of the exciting events they have on offer this year. “It’s a student based organisation so we’re all third and second year students. Then there is one fully paid member of staff Lauren, she is amazing and sorts us out when we get stressed and cry!”
The organisation is definitely growing in size. Last year they raised £471,000 for their various charities, and this year they are aiming to raise a whopping £500,000. ‘It’s awesome how much money we raise, and soon we’ll have to start increasing the size of our committee to keep the ball rolling’. Although Rag is ever growing, there are still lots of people who don’t know about RAG especially in student halls and within societies themselves. ‘Our aim is to get every fresher to think that RAG is a normal thing to do, so at some point everyone will have been involved in one of the events and challenges we have to offer’.
The challenge most people have heard of is the Mt Kilimanjaro climb. Each year students are flown out to Tanzania in East Africa to overcome extreme weather conditions, altitude sickness and fatigue in order to raise money for either the Meningitis Research Foundation or Practical Action. ‘It’s the best and worst thing that I have ever done in my life’, says Ella Tyler who completed the climb this summer, ‘as it’s mentally and physically rewarding but it was quite tough at some points. The reason I loved it was because you get so close to the group you do it with, you’re together every step of the way. The porters were fantastic and they were so supportive even though some of them couldn’t speak English!’
Chris, also from Practical Action, explained how vital the money raised by Manchester students is. ‘Last year, student’s raised over £70,000 for Practical Action, this is an absolutely colossal amount of money, and helps Practical Action make a genuine difference to the lives of the world’s poorest women, men and children. With this Practical Action could build six solar powered water pumping systems in communities in northern Kenya with no access to basic sanitation, and teach these communities basic hygiene skills, changing the lives of thousands of people. We spend 89p in every £1 donated directly on our project work.’
It’s such a great opportunity and you’ll probably never get the chance to climb Kilimanjaro once you leave university. It’s organised during the summer holiday, which means after the climb you can take time to travel round Eastern Africa – you’ll definitely deserve a break having climbed a 19,341ft mountain (technically it’s three volcanoes, two that are extinct but the third and highest summit is dormant so could erupt again). A few people may read this and think they wouldn’t have the fitness to face such a challenge, however the main feat is altitude sickness and this you can’t train for. All you need is enthusiasm and determination.
If the thought of climbing Kilimanjaro or attempting the other challenges doesn’t appeal then RAG runs a host of smaller events. However, don’t underestimate them because they are still challenging! One of these is Bogle, a 55mile walk around Manchester on the 1st and 2nd of March. It was started in the 1950s by people who got stranded in the Lake District, instead of paying for a taxi they decided to walk back to Manchester and get sponsored to do it. It has now evolved into Bogle.
Walkers meet at the RAG office in north campus at 7pm, and then walk through the night. The route takes you all around Manchester so you get to see parts of the city that students would never normally see. It is extremely challenging – nearly half end up dropping out as half way as the route loops back through Fallowfield and for many right past their doorstep.
Kat Lawson did the Bogle Ramble last year; this is a 26mile walk that takes ten hours. She explained how it was no walk in the park.
‘In all honesty it nearly killed me doing 26 miles. I had the worst blisters they were the size of cherry tomatoes, we now have a personal joke whenever we do anything that nothing is as bad as Bogle! Although it was tough we ended up having so much fun, and finishing was just the best feeling!’ However don’t let the blisters put you off because it isn’t just about the walk, especially if there is a large group of you.
If you do it in two or threes it’s hard to keep up morale, its much better and a lot more fun to attack the walk in a group. So if you are a member of a society that supports a charity, then getting involved would be a perfect way to raise money and to raise your society’s profile. With the money raised half will go to the selected charity by Rag (yet to be announced) and the other half will go whichever charity that is special to you.
‘In the end we managed to raise £200 for Childreach International which we are so proud of.’ So get talking amongst your friends to be walking and raising by the 1st and 2nd March.
For more information on Bogle then visit the website: http://www.manchesterrag.com/bogle/
JAILBREAK and LOST
Another really popular event is the Jailbreak, the aim of which is to see how far away from manchester you can get in thirty hours, without spending a penny. It may seem impossible but you’d be surprised how far you actually get. In previous years people have made it as far as Dubai and Hong Kong, and the furthest destination last year was Croatia. People blag their way onto all means of transport from buses, taxis, planes, cars and sometimes just do some good old fashioned walking.
The Publicity Officer Jo told me how she had taken part in Lost, which is Jailbreak’s sister event. ‘Everyone meets at Owens Park at midnight, and clamber onto the coach which has its windows taped up with bin liners. You are then driven through the night for three or four hours, chucked out and told to find your way back without spending any money’. It’s a crazy idea, but great fun and perfect for raising money. On previous years students have been taken as far as Newcastle and Oxford. ‘When you’re dropped off everyone looks at each other thinking the same thing: where the hell am I.’ It seems that there maybe some safety issue that need to be addressed for both Jailbreak and Lost, but Jo assured me that RAG keep a close eye on its participants. ‘It’s not dangerous, because we make people text us the moment they get into a car giving us the registration number and again when they get off, this goes the same for trains and buses. This way we can keep track of everyone’s progress and don’t lose any students.’
If any of these challenges have caught your attention then look online to find out more, plus see all the other challenges that are on offer. These range from Everest Base Camp to Beer Fest.
Rag website: http://www.manchesterrag.com/