Ringing the Bells for Change as Cyclists converge on Winchester Cathedral this Christian Aid Week
Bells of a different sort will ring at Winchester Cathedral on Saturday 11th May when cyclists from across the region are invited to pedal against poverty in the launch of Christian Aid Week(May 12-18).
Cyclists can take part in sponsored rides from their homes to the cathedral and enjoy a Big Brekkie in the cathedral’s refectory (9.30-10.45am) before joining in a mass cycling loop around the cathedral at 11am calling for Sierra Leone’s debts accrued to tackle Ebola to be dropped.
Christian Aid Week this year is highlighting the healthcare crisis in Sierra Leone, where ten mums a day die giving birth and where one in ten health workers were killed by the world’s worst Ebola outbreak (2014-2016).
Repayments of international debts taken out to tackle Ebola are now hampering the country’s ability to rebuild its desperately inadequate healthcare services and cyclists of all ages are invited to take part, ringing their bells and adding their voices to calls on the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to ‘Drop the Ebola Debt’.
Among those taking part will be the Chief Executive of Salisbury Diocese, David Pain, who lives in Winchester. He said: “The Ebola crisis was a personal tragedy for so many people and communities, it was prevented from becoming a global tragedy by those who tackled it.
“Sierra Leone’s health service was decimated by the disease and I believe the Ebola debts must be written off so the country has an opportunity to rebuild and prevent more lives from being lost.
“Food and cycling bring people together, which is fitting because that is what Christian Aid does. It enables us to reach out in solidarity to people across the world who are trapped in desperate poverty and work together for lasting change.
“I am looking forward to taking part in the cycle and visual display of that solidarity at Winchester Cathedral – do come and join us!”
Dean of Winchester Cathedral the Very Reverend Catherine Ogle will lead a blessing at the start of the mass loop. She said: “I’m delighted to be able to welcome cyclists back to the Cathedral for this third edition of Big Bike to Brekkie.
“Christian Aid is currently tackling poverty in 35 countries around the world. Sometimes the problems faced by communities living in poverty can seem overwhelming, but when we come together, the great power of people helps us believe that dignity, equality and justice are possible for everyone – and we can have some fun at the same time.
“We can trust that Christian Aid is able to not only reach these people in desperate need but also challenge the causes of poverty and empower people to lift themselves out of poverty at the same time.”
Churches across Hampshire raised over £167,000 for Christian Aid week in 2018. As well as the Big Bike to Brekkie and Chain of Solidarity, hundreds of local churches will this year be organising door-to-door collections, hosting other Big Brekkies or holding a range of fundraising activities.
Sierra Leone is the most dangerous country in the world to give birth in. If there is no clinic in their village, pregnant women in rural areas can wait up to eight hours before an ambulance arrives. Others travel to hospital on the back of a hired motorbike, but the poorest have no choice but to walk for hours on foot. Many women and babies do not survive the journey, particularly in the hunger months from May to December when food is scarce.
Christian Aid is helping remote communities come together to build health clinics as well as training nurses to provide urgent care in communities and improving hygiene, so mothers and babies are more likely to fight off diseases.
Event organiser Stephen Dominy, Christian Aid’s Hampshire coordinator said: “Christian Aid Week is an amazing celebration to change the world, through generosity, solidarity and action.
“We are grateful to Winchester Cathedral for sharing our vision and opening their doors. Anyone of any age and cycling ability can take part.”
To find out how to get involved in Christian Aid Week or to donate, visit caweek.org or call 08080 006 006, or text ‘GIVE’ to 70040 to give £5.* Donations will support communities such as those featured and wherever the need is greatest.