CALM Ambassador Shareefa shares her #LostHoursWalk advice

The Lost Hours Walk is our chance to deal with grief differently and defiantly. CALM Ambassador Shareefa is taking on the walk this October. We caught up with her for some tips on how to get prepped. 

On average, 125 people take their own lives each week in the UK. Last year, CALM walkers united, taking to the streets and walking through the night to smash the silence surrounding suicide. Raising awareness and money for CALM’s support helpline, last year’s walk helped to fund thousands of potentially life-saving phone calls. 

Shareefa has done her fair share of walks and runs for charity, running her first half marathon in March, but the Lost Hours Walk holds a special place in her heart:

“We walk and run for many different diseases, but the Lost Hours Walk is dedicated to suicide prevention. It’s important to me to campaign and help people understand that your mental health is just as important as your physical health.

“There’s something powerful about walking through the night when the pain starts to set into your body. It almost mimics what many people go through with their mental health - that feeling that you’re in pain but you can keep going. I feel like the walk encapsulates that emotion.”

The Lost Hours Walk is a little different this year. Walkers are planning their own routes across the country, choosing when, where and how far they’re walking. It’s not about the miles walked, but coming together to unite against suicide - a fact that really resonates with Shareefa. 

“I really believe that there’s no better feeling than putting yourself outside of your own needs and doing something for your community. When it comes to setting yourself a goal, there’s no judgement, it’s about taking part. Whether it’s a brisk 3 mile walk with friends, or 26 miles, always remember you can take it at your own pace and it’s not a competition.”

Having taken on the 26 mile walk around London last year, Shareefa has some advice for the day (or night). From packing practical items such as waterproofs, water, a mask, hand sanitizer, and a first aid kit, to packing a speaker and scrummy snacks to keep you and your team pumped - preparation is key. Of course, training will also make your walk a bit easier, something Shareefa learned the hard way last year:

“I didn’t train last year because I thought ‘umm walking? I can do that with my eyes closed!’ but I really can’t stress enough the importance of training walks. I will be doing the same 26 mile route as I did last year and plan to do a morning walk each day, increasing the distance and getting my body strong and prepared.”

While you may find public toilets along the way, she also recommends planning for the inevitable. We’re only human after all! 

“Be prepared that you might need to go to the bathroom in a bush, so pack supplies for that eventuality. Because after eight hours, it will happen.”

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Taking part in the Lost Hours Walk will not only make you feel good, but will also help to ensure CALM’s life-saving webchat and helpline are there for everyone who needs them, no matter what. Last year, CALM’s helpline workers took 120,000 calls and chats and directly prevented 588 suicides. Having smashed the collective target of £100,000 the #LostHoursWalk has already raised the equivalent of 3 seats on the helpline for an entire year. 

With lockdown forcing cancellations on events, charities like CALM are having to get creative with their fundraising. For people in crisis, the helpline is so valuable, so it’s really important we ask people to raise and donate money, because these services are saving people’s lives.”

But it’s not all about money, by taking on walks across the country, the Lost Hours Walk is smashing the silence around suicide: 

“These events are hugely important because they’re putting mental health on the map. It’s another tool to show the weight and severity of how mental health affects people."

Forward, together, against suicide

We want as many people to take part in the Lost Hours Walk as possible. Wherever you are in the country, no matter your age, or ability, choose a distance and route that works for you, your friends, family and community so we can walk forward, together, against suicide.

Whatever your reason why, it’s time to unite against suicide. Sign up here.