NHS staff celebrate helping over 100,000 Cumbrians’ with 24 hour three peak challenge

Over thirty adventurous First Step staff (therapists, managers and administrative staff) from Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust took on a 24 hour relay last weekend, completing the three highest peaks in the Lake District to raise almost three thousand pounds for four charities and celebrate the 10th anniversary of the successful countywide service.

The idea of a First Step event first took root in April 2018 when three colleagues sat down together  to discuss how they could mark the 10th anniversary of  First Step NHS Improving Access to Psychological Therapies Service  (IAPT) and the fact they have provided a service for over  100,000 people  across Cumbria during that time.  Living and working in Cumbria they naturally considered an outdoor challenge, one that would make the most of this beautiful environment and challenge them beyond normal limits, something they ask clients to do on a daily basis. A challenge covering the whole of Cumbria was chosen because First Step is a countywide service and helps people across Cumbria, something that is important to the staff as it allows then to help as many people as possible in a cost-effective way.

Dave Sandford, Senior Psychotherapist with the First Step service said “The challenge was a 24 hour non-stop relay completed on foot, bike, canoe, and swimming, where we handed over a baton as we completed three of the highest peaks in the Lake District, Scafell Pike, Skiddaw and Helvellyn. Some of route was done overnight in extremely adverse weather conditions. The group drew on their expertise in navigation skills to reach the summit of Scafell Pike at 2am in thick mist, whilst others coped with the strong wind and rain on the peak of Skiddaw. The group remained upbeat throughout the challenges and welcomed the support  their colleagues and families providing them with including refreshments along the way”.

The Brathay Trust generously offered to host the First Step challenge providing us with a central HQ, the start and finish point,. We would like to thank them  for their support and generosity. 

The challenge also provided them with the opportunity to raise sponsorship for four national charities and to date £2800 has been raised The charities were chosen for the services they offer, benefiting many of our clients. They are the Citizen Advice Bureau, Age Concern, SAMARITANS and Futures for Heroes (F4H).  F4H is a charity working with ex-serving personnel, delivering the courses from Brathay Hall in Ambleside. 

Dr Richard Thwaites, Clinical Director said “Although I am proud of what our patient and staff achieve together on a day-to- day basis, I was even more moved and proud to see so many people give up their weekends and push themselves physically to raise money for these great charities and to raise awareness of a service that still some people remain unaware of despite helping so many people in the last ten years. Having completed one leg of the 12 stages, I could feel a real sense of shared purpose and realised how strongly people felt about providing effective psychological therapies across the whole county. We hope to be in a position to make this a yearly Cumbrian event”.

If anyone would like to donate or find out more visit https://mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/firststepcumbria