One month. 631 miles. 21 miles per day. In June, IAN CAMPBELL from Affirm Facilitators will attempt to walk the UK’s South West Coast Path. He’s doing it to raise funds for both Arukah Network and Affirm. He’s been telling us why, and how you can support him. Jake: For those who don’t know, what does Affirm do? Ian: Well for many years, my wife Alison and I have worked with communities all over the world to help them respond to different challenges, often using the SALT methodology. And a few years ago, we decided to connect together others who also facilitate local community responses to things like HIV, because we wanted to start linking our shared to other communities, different kinds of organisations, faith groups and governments. And so we set up Affirm. Through Affirm, we now respond to invitations from people and organisations who want to partner with us, so that we can together listen, face to face, to local story in homes and neighbourhoods, and then mentor, facilitate and accompany these communities on a journey. We then work to see the learning gained from that applied not just to the local setting, but to the organisations linked with the people who join for the SALT conversations. Jake: Perhaps you should also explain your link with Arukah Network? Ian: I met Arukah Network’s Co-Leaders Ted and Elizabeth some years ago through the organisation InterHealth. And I found we had a likeness of mind in terms of how to get good health work done by communities, with the assistance and help of health workers and others. And so there was an immediate sense that we’d probably end up working together in some capacity. And that’s what’s happened: we’ve helped in the formation of Arukah Network’s Clusters in Zambia, Kenya and Myanmar. Jake: Why have you chosen the UK’s South West Coast Path? Ian: I’m Australian, my wife’s American, and we’ve been travelling all the time for the last thirty years. It’s been exhausting! So when we take a break, we don’t want to get in an aeroplane, we want to go local. And most of the time we go to the coast. I was brought up in Australia on the coast, and I’ve missed the coast, living as I do inland. And also, I’ve begun to appreciate the UK’s protected natural resources and pathways and parks, and the coastal part of Britain is just amazing. I’ve done various bits of the 630-mile South West Coast Path over the years, and I’d like to do it in one hit. I think it’s doable. And I think it’s conducive to inviting anyone else who wants to be a co-walker to join as well. And if those who want to join us don’t want to walk, but want to be part of the conversational moments, then they can join us in the evening for friendship, storytelling, fellowship and some good meals. So we’ll walk, we’ll gather stories locally, we’ll build friendships and connections, and we’ll raise funds too. Jake: We’re grateful to you, Ian, because the donations will help us fund an international Arukah Network gathering, when Cluster members from around the world will meet together this year in the UK for peer-learning, training and more. But what will a donation to Affirm enable? Ian: Well we want to set up an annual trip where a team of us visit one part of the world. We’re planning the first of these, to Kenya, in September. We’ll revisit the Kithithuni community which we’ve known for close to fifteen years. And with those who come with us on this visit – possibly a group of five-to-eight people – we’ll catch up with the community journey, listen to their story, map that story, and we’ll do some analysis of what has helped make change happen regarding HIV and other local concerns. Quite dramatic and remarkable change has been happening there, and we have to capture ‘why?’. We will also encourage those communities, thank them for what they’ve achieved. Because very often communities move forward but they just don’t get thanked, because all the people in organisations move off into different directions. Any funding raised through this walk will be put towards that process. Jake: If anyone reading this and wants to get involved in the walk – beyond sponsorship – what can they do? Ian: We have a schedule for the walk on our website (download here). They can look at that and get in touch with me via email if they have an interest in actually joining us for a day or two. So connect to me and we’ll just make it happen (firstname.lastname@example.org). All you would have to do is turn up and be prepared to stay in a location that we’re staying. They’d have to fund that themselves, and they might have to be ready for an early start the next morning – probably 5am! It might sound horrific, but it’s the middle of summer so the light will be there, and the weather will be great, probably. So we’ll do the day’s walk and then finish mid-afternoon and get together with whoever’s not walking. Jake: We look forward to walking with you, Ian!