Three colleagues from Merseyside charity Autism Together are hoping to raise £15,000 by trekking part of the Great Wall of China.
Jane Carolan, Siobhan Wise and Denise Williams have dedicated nearly sixty years between them to working with people on the autism spectrum. Now they’re going a step further in the support of people with the condition.
They’ve committed to walking up to seven hours per day for eight days, up and down steep, narrow sections of the 6,000 kilometre wall. On one section of the wall, known of Heaven’s Ladder, they’ll have to tackle a staircase of 300 steps.
Autism Together, based in Wirral, supports over 450 people on the autism spectrum and celebrates its fiftieth anniversary as a charity next year. Jane, Siobhan and Denise help clients enjoy fulfilled lives in residential care homes or supported living homes in the community.
The China trek takes place in mid September and the colleagues are making final preparations for their flight to Beijing. To date, they’ve raised £12,500 through fundraising events and physical challenges.
Jane, director of operations for the charity, hosted ‘An Evening of Flowers and Song’, which alone raised nearly £800. She said, “I’m not a professional fundraiser so this has been a learning curve. The most surprising thing is the help I’ve had from family and friends. People have really got behind me. They’ll do anything they can to help people with autism.”
Registered manager Siobhan has abseiled down Leasowe lighthouse and taken part in colour runs and obstacle courses, held bake sales and sold raffle tickets.
The colleagues have worked hard to prepare their legs for the challenge. Jane spent two weeks hill walking in the Lake District, tackling challenging routes up Helvellyn, Sunday Crag and Skiddaw. She said, “These hills are the same height as those we’ll be tackling in China, which is why I chose them for my training. What I wanted to do was to walk continuously for eight days, as we’ll be doing on the trek, but I took my dog Jess along and her feet got so sore that we had to have a full day’s rest every three days.”
Siobhan said the hardest part of the preparation was ensuring everything was in place at home before she left. She said, “At the moment, I’m worried about getting everything sorted. Once I’m on the plane, though, other people will have to deal with family life in my absence. I’ll be fine then! I’m not really worried about the trek itself. I know people who’ve done it. They say I’ll be absolutely fine. I’m quite fit and healthy. I’m not expecting it to be a breeze – but then I quite like that sort of thing.”
The colleagues are looking forward to the stunning scenery around the ancient wall, some sections of which date from the fifth century BC. They’ll pass through woodlands, terraced farmland and mountains and trek along both ancient and more modern sections.
Support worker Denise said, “I enjoy my work and I get a lot of pleasure in doing what I am doing professionally. I like supporting people with autism and when they achieve things, it makes me feel good, too. This is a good opportunity to raise funds for my organisation. My dream trip to China will help people with autism.”
Jane added, “We’d like to talk to people in China, if we can, about autism and to see how China supports people on the spectrum. We hear very little about it. I’m sure, if it affects one in a hundred people in this country, there must be a similar ratio in China.”
To help Jane, Denise and Siobhan achieve their £15,000 target, please donate here: https://www.justgiving.com/companyteams/ATTEAMCHINA