30 March 2023

Six young residents of YMCA East Surrey’s housing scheme have taken on the West Dorset Three Peaks Challenge, successfully tackling a ten-mile trek and climbing three of Dorset’s most prominent landmarks en route.

Three nights of free accommodation at Woodsford Castle – the surviving part of a 14th-century castle deep in Hardy country, just outside Dorchester – was provided to the group through the Landmark Trust’s ’50 for Free’ programme, which offers self-catering breaks in its historic buildings to the nominees of charities and non-profit organisations.

Accompanying the six young people – along with YMCA Housing Support Manager, Nicole Jackson – was Lee Fabry, YMCA East Surrey’s Head of Housing. He says:

“The benefits of being active are well known. We hope that taking on a challenge like this will have a positive effect on the confidence, stress levels and general mental health of each resident involved.

The group had the time of their lives, not only staying in a fantastic historic building and trekking along a section of the most beautiful English coastline, but learning valuable life skills, such as teamwork and communication, and improving their health and fitness at the same time.

To be able to enjoy an opportunity like this after experiencing the isolation, anxiety and strain of homelessness is a well-deserved morale boost for everyone involved.”

During the challenge, the young people scaled Thorncombe Beacon (157 metres), Golden Cap (191 metres) and Colmer’s Hill (127 metres).

Sabir Hammad, originally from Sudan, was one of two unaccompanied asylum-seeking children who took part in the challenge.

“I had such fun on the trip and was so happy to be invited,” he says. “It is something I will always remember. I loved the challenge to trek across three peaks – it was wicked!”

The residents had time to relax during a day out in Bournemouth, where they played mini golf, ate fish and chips and enjoyed ice creams by the seaside.

Evie Faint, 20, was also among the group. She says:

“It was really challenging but so rewarding. After walking so many miles across beautiful seaside clifftops, we stayed in an amazing castle – something I’ve never experienced before! – and were able to form bonds with fellow residents and staff.”

Lee Fabry adds:

“I would like to say a big thank you to the Landmark Trust for making a trip like this possible for our residents and to Clockwise Marketing, who sponsored the event.”