A resident of a care home for homeless people will be taking the home's dog for a longer than usual walk to help thousands of London's homeless to better mental and physical health.
Carl and golden retriever Buddy will join supporters and staff of St Mungo's, London's largest homeless charity, for their fundraising Bridge Walk which sets off from Mint Street Park and passes through Lambeth.
All walkers will receive a St Mungo's Bridge Walk t-shirt to wear on the day, an illustrated map of the route, entry into the Bridge Walk raffle and lunch at the summer fete.
The event kicks off St Mungo's Action Week – 5-12 July – and this year focuses on breaking the link between poor mental health and homelessness.
Leila Brookes, who works at the care home and will be walking alongside Carl, said: "I am delighted to be taking part in this year's Bridge Walk, especially as I'll be joined by one of my residents. Carl, Buddy and I are hoping to raise as much sponsorship money as possible to help improve mental health care services for homeless people.
"I work in one of St Mungo's registered care homes. The project cares for some of the most vulnerable people in our society meaning that my job can often be quite challenging, but at the same time I find it very rewarding."
The five mile stroll from Mint Street Park to St Giles in the Fields Church will follow the Thames, crossing London, Southwark, Blackfriars, Waterloo and Westminster bridges, and passing through the boroughs of Southwark, the City of London, Lambeth, Westminster and Camden.
More than a hundred people took part in last year's Bridge Walk. This year St Mungo's are hoping for many more to help them celebrate their 40th birthday.
"St Mungo's vision is that everyone should have a decent place to live, something meaningful to do, and satisfying relationships with other people – as well as the good health to enjoy them," said Tanya English.
"In this our 40th year we are launching a one million pound Mental Health Appeal during Action Week. By taking part in the Bridge Walk, and raising money for us, you are actively supporting better mental health for homeless people and helping us to support some of the most vulnerable people in our capital."
Around 35 percent of the homeless people St Mungo's supports have severe and enduring diagnosed mental illnesses. However, a recent survey of residents at one St Mungo's hostel found that up to 85 percent were in poor mental health, with a range of personality, anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorders - none of whom had been formally diagnosed.
If you want to sponsor Leila, Carl and Buddy you can visit their Just Giving page at http://www.justgiving.com/leila-carl-buddy
To take part in the walk call Zoe Flynn on 020 8600 3000 or go to www.mungos.org/bridgewalk to register online.
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