- Just over a year ago, Gill Timmis, a child care professional, had an idea. She was only too aware that most people like her - middle class, middle-aged and 'comfortable' - assumed that children found themselves in care either because they were bad or because they'd had bad things done to them. She knew that most kids in care were just kids - 'kids like ours' - and it made her mad as hell to see them labelled as a problem. She wanted to raise awareness - and money to help children in care network and support each other - and she wanted to make an impact all over the country.
So, on June 23 2002, Gill and a group of trusty friends will begin a marathon Land's End to John O'Groats bike ride in aid of children's charity The Who Cares? Trust.
The Who Cares? Trust is a national children's charity, committed to improving the prospects of children in social services care throughout the country. Gill and her friends are aiming to raise the profile of the difficulties faced by children in care, and to encourage people to think about how the odds can be stacked against a child for no reason other than that they can't live in their own family.
98% of children are admitted to care because of family breakdown, not through any fault of their own.
that, according to March 2001 figures, 63% of those leaving care at 16+ had no qualifications and only 5% had five or more GCSEs graded A-C.
- Over a quarter of rough sleepers have been in local authority care and children who have been in care are twice as likely as other kids to become teenage parents.
of prisoners have been in care compared to 2% of the total population.
The event will run from John o'Groats on 13 July, the three weeks from 23 June 2002 will see them cover over 60 miles almost every day - the distance from London to Brighton. Eight intrepid cyclists have signed up for the entire trip and another 12 will be joining them for parts of the journey, which will take them through Penzance, Exeter, Ross on Wye, Chester, Liverpool, Southport, Blackpool, Kendall, Carlisle and Glasgow along the way.
Gill says, "We're calling our project 'People like us - Kids like ours' in the hope that people like us will think a bit more about kids in care. People sometimes
think that children are in care because they are bad or have had bad things done to them - when the reality is that children in care are just kids, like any other kids trying to get on with their lives."
As well as raising awareness about children in care, Gill and her friends are aiming to raise at least £20,000 for the Who Cares? Trust's work in developing a new, on-line initiative called CareZone, which will help young people access and store vital information including appropriate educational help. The Trust also provides a phone line and magazine for these extra special children.
Most members of the group are far from being professional or regular cyclists - and all are expecting to come out of the experience with sore bottoms! Their training has recently begun and has involved bike rides to Guildford, Windsor and Brighton.
PEOPLE LIKE US - KIDS LIKE OURS itinerary
23 JUNE - Land's End to Golant via Penzance, Hayle, Redruth, Trelissick Ferry & Mevagissy.
24 JUNE - Golant to Step's Bridge via Looe, Torpoint Ferry, Yelverton, Princetown & Moretonhampstead.
25 JUNE - Step's Bridge to Burnham-on-Sea via Exeter, Honiton, Taunton & Bridgewater.
26 JUNE - Burnham-on-Sea to Ross-on-Wye via Churchill, Clifton Bridge, Severn Bridge & Coleford.
27 JUNE - Ross-on-Wye to Clun via Withington, Leominster & Leinstwardine.
28 JUNE - Clun to Chester via Pontesbury & Ellesmere.
29 JUNE - Rest day in Chester.
30 JUNE - Chester to Blackpool via Mersey Ferry,Liverpool, Southport & Preston.
1 JULY - Blackpool to Kendall via Pilling, Lancaster & Kirby Lonsdale.
2 JULY - Kendall to Keswick via Windermere, Patterdale & Troutbeck.
3 JULY - Keswick to Carlisle via Mugrisdale & Hesket Newmarket.
4 JULY - Carlisle to Sanquhar via Annan, Dumfries & Thornhill.
5 JULY - Sanquhar to Glasgow via Uddington & Larkhall.
6 JULY - Rest day in Glasgow.
7 JULY - Glasgow to Crianlarich via Loch Lomond & Tarbet.
8 JULY - Crianlarich to Glen Nevis.
9 JULY - Glen Nevis to Loch Ness via Laggan.
10 JULY - Loch Ness to Carbisdale Castle via Dingwall & Alness.
11 JULY -Carbisdale Castle to Tongue via Lairg & Altnaharra.
12 JULY - Tongue to John O'Groats via Armadale &