Gorilla Warfare Coach Sharon. Photo: Marcus Smith

Gorilla Warfare CrossFit gym in Walkden have raised almost £4,000 to support those living on the streets in the city by completing a 24-hour workout-a-thon.

The gym’s members completed their mammoth challenge by tackling 24, hour-long workout sessions in rotating teams of six, to allow some of the group to eat and sleep, while one team remained constantly exercising at any one time. In order to stay in the challenge, the teams had to complete a minimum of 500 reps per hour between the team.

Thanks to the group’s valiant efforts, they have far surpassed their original £1500 goal. They plan to use the extra money raised to purchase even more clothes, food, toiletries, and other essential items, which they will distribute themselves to those living on the streets during the cold winter months.

One of the members taking part in the challenge is firefighter Damian Billingham. He said that his work has made him even more aware of the issue of homelessness across the city: “Helping the homeless is something that is close to my heart, because I work in the city centre, so around this time of year I see a lot of homeless. I was on a night shift last night, and the conditions that those guys and girls are living in is terrible, and when you see that so often, it makes you thankful for the fact that we have a roof over our head.”

As the cold winter nights draw in, providing essential supplies to those who are homeless is even more vitally important. According to the Office for National Statistics, 33 people died while homeless last year across Greater Manchester, an increase of 65% since 2013. In Salford, the mortality rate for homeless people is above average, at 23.5 deaths per million people, up from 14 deaths per million people on a national scale.

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For Sharon, one of the coaching staff at Gorilla Warfare, the physical element of the challenge wasn’t as difficult as the mental barriers the teams had to push through: “I’m not going to lie, I’m absolutely exhausted! It’s been emotionally tough; I’ve not had any sleep. The night was dark, and I don’t just mean outside – there were moments where you’d start a workout and you didn’t think you were going to get through it. But we found different tactics to get through, and we did it.”

Gorilla Warfare member Damian Billingham. Photo: Marcus Smith
Gorilla Warfare member Damian Billingham. Photo: Marcus Smith

Now that the challenge is complete, it has made Damian reflect even more closely on the suffering those sleeping rough must endure. He said: “I’m tired, sore, hungry, and need to get some sleep! But we think this is adversity – these people are all going home to a warm house and a hot meal, but I’ve seen in the city centre just how bad it is, and that is true adversity, because that’s not just a 24-hour thing, that’s their life every day of the week.”

If you would like to contribute to Gorilla Warfare’s fundraiser, you can do so here.

You can also keep up to date with their plan to distribute the essential items the money has purchased on their Facebook page.

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