Doing The Big Lent Walk

A group of schoolchildren from Endsleigh Holy Child posing in front of a Big Lent Walk outdoor banner

This year, we invited schools to take on a challenge like no other – CAFOD’s Big Lent Walk, and we were immediately bowled over by the number of schools that signed up and pledged to support their global family.

As we enter a new academic year, we reflect on the success of CAFOD’s Big Lent Walk and how children and young people came together to raise money and tackle poverty in communities around the world.

Did you know:

  • 650 schools took part in CAFOD’s Big Lent Walk?
  • 250,000 children stepped, strided, danced, clapped and high-fived their way around school playgrounds, fields and local streets?
  • that so far, we have raised an incredible £187,000.

These super statistics are because students, teachers, parents and communities from across England and Wales came together to be part of CAFOD’s Big Lent Walk journey.

And if you were one of those people who didn’t just talk the talk, but walked the walk, thank you very much! The money raised from your Big Lent Walk will support CAFOD partners working with our brothers and sisters living in poverty around the world. 

The Big Lent Walk was promoted to everyone across the CAFOD community. Individuals through parishes were challenged to walk 200km during 40 days to raise money. Primary and secondary schools set their own target distances, picked their own dates during Lent and asked parents and carers for sponsorship. 

CAFOD’s David Brinn, schools lead for The Big Lent Walk, believes it was the simplicity of the challenge that was key to its success. Among the schools that took part were those who had never fundraised with CAFOD before. 

“It’s an old-school sponsored walk – you walk a distance and you raise money for doing it,” David says. “It’s a traditional format everyone understands.”

And although the sponsored walk is something of a ‘tried-and-tested’ formula, schools didn’t hesitate in putting their own spin on it. One school walked in silence, reflecting on those they were raising money for; some high-fived their way around the playground; one school ‘Walked like a Disciple’, dancing to The Bangles’ chart topper ‘Walk like an Egyptian’; a trust of 17 schools took on a ‘kilometre of kindness’, collectively walking the equivalent of a lap around the world; another school’s Year 5 and 6 pupils even took their walk to Seville to take on The Big Lent Walk Europe!

Teachers were keen to share the good news. On Twitter, Facebook, in the local and Catholic press and even on BBC radio, students could be seen and heard Big Lent Walk-ing in the sun, rain and snow, in playgrounds, around towns and villages, in the countryside and by the sea. 

“It really did capture the imagination of children, teachers and parents,” says David. “People were just up for walking in all manner of ways, while raising money for communities in need around the world.”

These include people like 14-year-old Dristy and her Mum Rupali in Bangladesh, says David. They are building seed beds and planting palm trees to protect their crops from flooding and cyclones. The Big Lent Walk campaign is supporting families to provide the skills and tools they’ve asked for to fight the climate crisis. 

Deputy headteacher Kaye Binney of St Charles’ Catholic Primary School in Newcastle said: “We are learning about the challenges people face because of global poverty, and what we can all do to help, so we were very excited to learn about The Big Lent Walk. Everyone was thinking of creative ways to get the steps in, raise as much money as possible for people in need, and make a difference at Lent.”

Headteacher Jeremy Barnes, at All Saints Catholic Primary School in Anfield, says The Big Lent Walk is a great opportunity for physical exercise, as well as a learning opportunity on the global climate crisis:  ”I would urge all schools to get involved; it follows the Pope’s cry to action in his encyclical Laudato Si’,” he adds.  

Inspired to take part in next year’s Big Lent Walk? We’d love you to join us on the journey!

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