The OD Issue 3 - page 6

THE OD
4
ACHIEVEMENTS
Storming the
Desert
Oxfordshire social enterprise and employment
charity Aspire won national recognition in
December 2012 as
The Guardian
Newspaper’s
Charity of the Year. Led by CEO
Rick Mower
(OD 1981), Aspire offers life changing support
to people who face barriers to meaningful
employment. Through professional social
businesses, work placements are created
that provide skills, experience and
responsibility in real environments.
Providing facilities services
including grounds maintenance,
removals and upcycling, Aspire’s
clients include local councils,
blue chip companies and
academic institutions.
Since its foundation in 2001,
the results achieved by Aspire have made it a
market leader in getting trainees into proper
paid work with exceptionally low rates of
re-offending or relapse. Rick Mower is deeply
impressed with what can be achieved by men
and women who have been out of mainstream
work for many years.
“The people we work with are
extraordinary,” he says. “The resilience,
determination to change and sheer tenacity
of people who have faced and survived
really tough periods in life, is inspiring.
Harnessing that energy gives Aspire a great
workforce and makes it a place of change,
opportunity and growth”.
The social impact effect of Aspire is
substantial. It saves the tax payer over
£1 million a year in reduced benefits
claims and cost saving to other
public services in Oxfordshire.
Its work placement programmes
achieve almost four times the
success rate of the Government’s
Work Programme providers in
securing full-time employment. In 2012
alone the charity helped 117 trainees,
generated 6,706 positive working days, and
secured 88 places for education and training
– as well as building self-confidence,
encouraging positive work habits and
redirecting people’s lives.
Removing Barriers to
Better Futures
The rules of the race are that the
participants must be self-sufficient and
carry all they need apart from water.
Runners from all over the world face
the scorching heat as they complete the
equivalent of five and half marathons in
as many days to raise significant funds
for charities.
Paul reports that temperatures were
extreme, reaching as high as 54 degrees
centigrade; Day Four, the ‘long’ day of
the 75 kilometre stage was especially hot.
Although the whole course was some
15 kilometres shorter than in previous
years at approximately 235km, what
was reduced in distance was more than
made up for in hills, mountains and
dunes to cross. Day Two was particularly
brutal in that respect with three jebels
(mountains) to traverse.
Despite all obstacles, however, Paul
finished in the top half of the field, at
489th out of 1030 starters. The charities
Pancreatic Cancer Action and BackUp
Trust will benefit from his herculean
achievement.
The Marathon de Sables has been described as the toughest
race on earth. The gruelling multi-stage contest takes place
in one of the world’s most striking landscapes and most
challenging climates – the Sahara Desert.
Paul Bowker
(OD
1975) not only completed the event successfully in April 2013,
he also raised over £35,000.
1,2,3,4,5 7,8,9,10,11,12,13,14,15,16,...28
Powered by FlippingBook