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Hike for Freedom

By Col
29, Nov, 2019

"You can't do that, you can't achieve this." Oh yes you can.

Surviving the suffering caused from multiple and complex trauma including torture and human trafficking takes a massive amount of strength, to find a sense of self and build that strength to move on. This is where the Helen Bamber Foundation  (HBF)  comes in, a human rights organisation that supports survivors of extreme cruelty to make a sustained recovery.  They provide integrated care: supporting their clients in their housing and welfare, legal protection and health, both physical and mental, so that they can cope with their trauma,

For the past nine months a group of women from the HBF have been training for their ‘Hike for Freedom’ a challenge about coming together as a team, supporting each other and pushing comfort zones.

There’s not many obstacles harder to overcome than what these women have been through, so the Alpkit Foundation were pleased to help towards the challenge.

Claire from the HBF got back in touch with us recently to let us know how things got on and what impact it has.

“To build inner confidence, social networks, independence and agency over one’s well-being are vital aspects of survivors’ journeys to sustained recovery. This project achieved just that: a band of “happy women together” supporting each other, building strength and owning their own power.

So yes they did it!

The weather was not kind to us on Ben Nevis - we encountered sheet rain and gale force winds of 60 - 70mph. We were being blown off our feet as we tried to scale the mountain. Despite the awful conditions the women showed immense courage and determination and decided to push on further.  Eventually, in order to make sure we all made it down safely the Mountain Leaders decided we needed to turn back, the wind was too strong and the risk of someone injuring themselves was too high. Despite this, at the end of our first day hiking morale was soaring, with the team feeling proud of what we had accomplished and the strength we had displayed on the mountain. We all reached our own summit today.

Unfortunately, the bad weather was our constant companion! The wind did drop for the next two mountains, but was replaced with hailstones and heavy rain.  However, the team showed immense courage and laughed, chatted and sang their way up the mountains.

It wasn’t all smooth sailing and there were some difficult times during the challenge - I guess it wouldn’t be a challenge if it was easy! The combination of long drives and long hikes with no alone time, meant we all had our own personal mountains to tackle. Low mood would creep in, sickness, lack of sleep, pain and physical exhaustion all contributed to emotions running high at times. On top of that we had van troubles to contend with - the van broke down at the bottom of Scafell Pike filled with fourteen tired and wet women, and no phone signal!

Importantly, everyone gave it their all, staying positive despite being exhausted and the difficult weather conditions. The group supported each other till the end, and witnessing such camaraderie and care for one another was incredible to experience. We had some amazing moments with beautiful views, lake swims, delicious home-cooked dinners, dancing in the vans, songs up the mountain, and long belly laughs that would shake you out of your bunk bed”

It sounded like an amazing trip and despite the less than ideal weather this quote from one of the participants really sums up how much of an immense impact it had.

'I think there is a reason why they called this 'Hike for Freedom' and this is it for me: It has helped me find the freedom, the voice, the spirit and the positivity that I've been looking for... People have told me 'you can't do this', 'you can't achieve this', 'you're not this', 'you're not that', but after today, nobody will tell me 'you can't do this' or 'you can't achieve this'. I have become a professional hiker! I've smashed it! I am so glad and happy that I was in the midst of all these beautiful women and souls because the whole team has been really, really supportive of us all and you know we are very grateful.’

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