Staff members from Futureworks in Salford are completing a 5000km exercise challenge to remember one of their students this month.
Following the loss of Music Production student Mark Clayton to suicide earlier this year, 12 employees from the school have teamed up to raise money for Mind, the mental health charity chosen by Mark’s family.
Martyn Ellis, 34, has worked at Futureworks for five years and is doing his bit by biking to and from his face-to-face teaching sessions.
The audio engineer and lecturer said: “We’re very small, so why I think a lot of the staff have really gotten involved in this is that we know our students on a one-to-one basis.
“There’s a family that Mark’s left behind and there’s tutors who are still coming to terms with the fact that there’s a face that’s not going to be there this year for them, and that’s difficult.”
The group will be individually walking, running, rowing and cycling to reach their 5000km target in line with coronavirus restrictions.
Martyn said: “It’s actually really great, it’s bonded us a lot more than I thought it would.
“We’ve got this group chat and everybody’s pitching in and having a chat.
“My pedal came off my bike on Sunday, so everybody had a good laugh at that.
“Tutors are still coming to terms with the fact that there’s a face that’s not going to be there this year for them.
Since starting their six-week challenge at the beginning of November, the Futureworks staff have almost tripled their £500 target by raising £1,345.
However, Martyn is conscious that further donations would be invaluable to the charity.
He said: “We’ve done alright so far, but the fact of the matter is there’s so much more that can be done.
“We’re all people who want to make a difference, and if we can raise more money for Mind and get more support for more people then that’s great.”
As students at Futureworks adapt to a new way of learning during the COVID-19 pandemic, their teachers want them to make sure they are looking after their mental health.
Martyn commented: “I think anyone at the moment who says that their mental health hasn’t been impacted by spending all of their time indoors every day or sat at home looking at a screen is lying.
“Life is honestly, I would say, it’s harder than I’ve ever known it in some respects.
“It’s okay to not be okay but know that there’s people out there to help.”
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To donate to the fundraiser and track the team’s progress, visit the Futureworks JustGiving page here.