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Community Foundation lends support to Paddle to Parliament challenge

Bristol Rugby Community Foundation will lend its support to the launch of a charity canoeing challenge, which aims to raise awareness and speak up for the survivors of child abuse.

The ‘Paddle to Parliament’ challenge - which launches on Bristol’s historic harbourside tomorrow – will see Southmead Project CEO Dr Mike Peirce MBE and his brother Terry climb aboard their canoes and paddle over 100 miles from Devizes, Wiltshire to the heart of Westminster to request an urgent cross-party review of charity funding.

Southmead Project is a registered charity providing free therapeutic and practical support to adults who were abused as children and have turned to drugs, alcohol and other ways of self-harming as a consequence of that trauma.

With a combined aged of 147 years – none of which have been spent on the river – Paddle to Parliament will see Mike and Terry joined by JK Kennington and Pete Wraith, survivors of child abuse, celebrities, members of the public and even the press as the row to the centre of the capital. The rowers will set out on Monday, 11th September and will arrive at the Palace of Westminster at some point on Friday, 15th September.

Dr Mike Peirce MBE, Southmead Project CEO, explains the importance of Paddle to Parliament:

“Paddle to Parliament is about making a bold statement,” he said.

“By rowing to the heart of our democracy we are making a stand for children and young people who are victims of abuse.

“We want a cross party consensus and agreement on sustainable, long-term funding for charities that work with survivors. Charities like Southmead Project and countless others struggle to fund the life changing work we do. If we run out of money, they run out of hope.”

Throughout the paddle, members of the public will be able to track the progress or Mike and his crew, with the 12-foot boats equipped with satellite navigation technology which automatically updates the Southmead Project.

“Bristol Rugby Community Foundation (BRCF) is proud to be supporting the ‘Paddle to Parliament’ efforts of both Mike and Terry Pierce."

Craig Capel, community development manager

Craig Capel, community development manager said: “Bristol Rugby Community Foundation (BRCF) is proud to be supporting the ‘Paddle to Parliament’ efforts of both Mike and Terry Pierce.

“The 100-mile trip is obviously a huge challenge with the intention of raising funds and awareness for the vital support offered by the Southmead Project.

“We hope that we can help raise even more awareness of the need for the great work of the project. The Community Foundation wheel of provision supports young and older people across Greater Bristol and beyond and recognises the importance of working with organisations such as the Southmead Project to best help some of the most disadvantaged members of our community.”

According to recent figures released by the NSPCC, police handle a call directly related to child sexual abuse every 10 minutes. Mike Peirce believes we’re only now beginning to realise the extent of childhood abuse, and the damage it can do throughout the lives of survivors.

“Child abuse is a life sentence - we need politicians to acknowledge the numbers of people affected and fund support for children young people and adult survivors like those we work with at Southmead Project,” he said.

“Abuse is happening now and we need funding for charities to support these people in crisis.

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