A fitness instructor organizes a long walk and wild camp to raise money for Ukrainian refugees and create greater awareness of the conditions they endure.
Natalie Bell, who set up Fitness by Natalie during lockdown, enlisted a group of women aged 19 to 69 to take part in a hike from her home in Winlaton, Gateshead, to Hedley on the Hill in Northumberland. Participants, of varying abilities, will be able to bring only the essentials of their trip to better understand the stories of millions of refugees fleeing war-torn Ukraine.
Natalie, 40, said: “I have a five-year-old daughter and I’ve followed the news a lot and I see these poor families splitting up. It breaks my heart when I see the families splitting up at the train station.
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“It really touched my heart, especially being a mum and understanding how hard it would be to be separated from your family and leave your husband or older relatives behind, but knowing that is about survival I just thought being a parent is so hard but dealing with [the war] and keep your kids safe, fed and clothed at the same time – I just thought I had to do something to help.”
Natalie and a team of 10 women, known as “The Good Vibe Tribe,” will set off on the approximately eight-mile hike on April 30. Natalie’s 69-year-old mother will also take part in the challenge.
They will camp overnight at Hedley on the Hill in two-person tents provided by a member of the group who works at a school, before returning to Winlaton the following day. And while Natalie joked that the group originally thought they might bring luxuries such as wine to enjoy during their wilderness camp, she makes sure only the essentials will be brought on the trip. .
Natalie said: “We’re really going to go back to basics. I really want to take it apart and simulate in the only way possible what the refugees have to do. They have to leave the house with everything they can and walk for miles. “
“We have borrowed two person tents from one of my clients who works in a school and it will be very basic living for one night so we can really appreciate what they have to do in Ukraine and what is happening .
“I also want it to test us, not physically, but mentally, and really appreciate what we have. When it’s stripped down, we realize how lucky we are in this country.”
Natalie said ‘The Good Vibe Tribe’ are always looking to raise money for charity and recently completed the This Girl Can event at the Newcastle exhibition grounds to raise money for Women’s Aid Newcastle. They have also previously raised funds for cancer research.
After feeling “powerless” in the face of the crisis in Ukraine, Natalie developed her idea for her latest fundraiser with the aim of helping Ukrainian refugees and raising funds and awareness for the conditions they face. She added that she also hopes the challenge will take her clients out of their comfort zone.
Natalie said: “I pitched the idea to the band to see what they thought of it and I was really pleased with the response. Yeah, they’re worried and a bit worried about it because it’s a long walk and they really have to test their limits but our group supports each other.
“They know it’s going to be tough and it’s going to be tough, but I believe in everyone and I know we can do it.”
For more information and to donate to ‘The Good Vibe Tribe’ fundraiser for Ukraine, visit their JustGiving page via this link.