A lawyer in Leeds has pledged to run 10k a day to raise funds for a charity which is providing medical aid to the refugee crisis in Europe.
James Lester, 38, has been so moved by the horror facing those fleeing war that this week he began a personal challenge to run 10k every day for Médecins Sans Frontières.
His daily feat is also in protest at what he says is the “unacceptable” handling of the situation by the British Government - which earlier this week announced it would accept 20,000 Syrian refugees by 2020.
Since beginning his campaign on Saturday - and running from his home in Rodley to his city centre office all this week - he has so far raised over £1,300.
James said: “I was overwhelmed by the varied horrors being faced by those suffering the current humanitarian crisis and by reading the news and the visceral and overwhelming impact of the pictures of Aylan Kurdi. I recognised I had done nothing in effect - which I was ashamed about - and I was angry the Government was not doing enough and desperate to do some little thing that might attract donations to help what is continuing and worsening.”
He said his 10k challenge will continue “as long as the need remains” and “until the Government agrees to at least a proportionate number of refugees”.
James added: “So I expect to be running for a very long time as long as funds are needed.”
His challenge comes as Leeds City Council yesterday announced it had formed a task group which will meet next week to discuss how Leeds can best support the plans to accommodate more refugees.
It will be led by the council’s assistant chief executive James Rogers and attended by representatives from the NHS, Migration Yorkshire, West Yorkshire Police and the Leeds Migration Partnership. Coun Judith Blake, council leader, said: “We remain absolutely committed to doing everything in our power to provide any support that we can to help those affected by this terrible humanitarian crisis.”
To sponsor James visit www.Justgiving.com/10KaDay Everyday, or text MSFF98 to 70070. Follow his progress at www.facebook.com/10KmPerDay
HOW TO HELP
To help organisations in Leeds which help refugees and asylum seekers:
Donations – contact PAFRAS – 0113 262 2163, www.pafras.org.uk or Meeting Point in Armley, https://meetingpointleeds.wordpress.com/
Volunteer – help with English lessons in refugees’ homes, or provide a room in your home for a day or two. Visit LASSN www.lassn.org.uk