For the past 57 years, the 100 mile canoe challenge has been pushing young people to their limits, through 5 days and 4 nights of floating down three of the UK's most well known rivers: The Trent, the Severn and Wye, while paddling a canoe and fighting off exhaustion.
It's been proven time and time again to improve the employment opportunities of participants due to their ability to evidence to potential employers how their determination and grit got them through something many will never have to experience, while providing a trip to remember for life.
However, due to cuts to funding for community projects like this from local councils over the past few years, the group sizes have dropped from an average of 300 young people per trip to just 60, or only 20% of former attendance.
The Downside Fisher Club started as a boys club in 1908 to help underprivileged young boys around Bermondsey and the surrounding area by offering them things to do such as boxing and other physical activities, while also providing opportunities for personal development and future employment. Over the past 110 years the club has had its' ups and downs, moving into a purpose built building with a swimming pool, climbing wall, games courts and other activities, and transitioning to a mixed gender youth club, while constantly battling a lack of funding and the challenges of running a non-profit organisation in central London.
The club has seen generation after generation of members through its' doors, and plays a central part of the lives of many local young people, through its' usual openings and participating in events such as the 100 mile canoe challenge.
The trip provides attendees with a number of skills and tests that can be used to help them obtain employment in the future. By showing that each young person on the trip can edure days of extreme conditions and still power through to the end, the test proves to potential employers that they can stick it out through thick and thin, and get anything needed done in the meantime.
It also provides a range of benefits for participants involved with other Downside Fisher activities such as boxing, football and basketball, as it gives them plenty of time to train their core strength and ability to perform in the worst conditions, meaning they're more ready for challenges as and when they appear after completing the test.
However, we need your help. Given extreme cuts to the operating budget of the event, we need to raise the funding from the general public to ensure that this incredible opportunity keeps on being an option for the best and brightest of the Downside Fisher Youth Club, and other youngsters involved in the test from youth groups across the country. Each penny invested goes towards providing an experience that shapes the lives of each participant, and ensuring they have the support and safety needed to excel while doing it.
If you can't afford to donate yourself, please share the project on social media, or with a few select family members and friends that you are sure could.