Press release

Six Kingston ministers raise £16,000 by walking 2 million steps for the world’s 3 billion people without soap and water

Six Kingston members of clergy, backed by the Bishop of Kingston, have finished their challenge to clock up 2 million steps between them in May to help some of the world’s poorest communities across the world protect themselves from Covid-19.
The ministers - rector of All Saints’ Church, Kingston, the Rev Jonathan Wilkes; Fr Martin Hislop of St Luke’s Church, Kingston; minister of Kingston Methodist Church, the Rev Dr Karl Rutlidge; vicar of St John the Evangelist, Grove Road, Kingston, the Rev Mark Stafford, and ministers of the United Reformed Church in Kingston the Rev Lesley Charlton and the Rev Suk In Lee – surpassed their original £15,000 goal and continue to raise an incredible amount for the international charity.

For Christian Aid Week each year, churches across Kingston come together to help transform the lives of the world’s most vulnerable people – but lockdown meant that the usual community events such as house-to-house collections, market stalls and a flag day couldn’t happen this year.

Instead, the ministers, who are from different denominations including the Church of England, the Methodist Church and the United Reformed Church, each pledged to complete 300,000 steps in May in return for sponsorship.

Kingston Christian Aid Group member, Ian Williamson said: "We are amazed and gratified by how generous people in Kingston and around have been in these difficult times.

“We had no real expectation of getting a response as large as £16,000! We think that people realise that though things are difficult enough for us in the UK, these times are - and will be - much harder for those that face the threat of Covid-19 in places where soap is an unaffordable luxury, water is precious, health services are not so developed, and living conditions (particularly in places like the refugee camps) hugely overcrowded.

“We represent different denominations within the Christian community here in Kingston, but all of us welcome the support (moral and material) of the Bishop of Kingston, the Rt Rev Dr Richard Cheetham.”

Kingston Christian Aid Group chair Ray Charlton, who joined the group as the seventh walker, said: “Last year the churches raised a staggering £15,000 – and it is amazing that we have been able to exceed that amount while under lockdown.

“Today, the world looks quite different, and need to help our global neighbours is as urgent as ever.

“Imagine the predicament of trying to cope with coronavirus without proper sanitation, failing water supplies, and poor health services? Three billion people - 40% of the world’s population - do not have access to soap and water in the home, making protecting your family’s health very difficult, especially in crowded conditions.

“We called the challenge ‘Walk for a Whole World’, because we want wholeness for people, the chance to thrive and not merely survive, wherever they are in the world. Let’s stand together with our neighbours, both near and far.”

Christian Aid is currently responding to the crisis in 17 countries across the globe, working alongside the most vulnerable people of all faiths and none. For example in Myanmar, local partners have distributed soap to more than 30,000 people and distributed 2,000 surgical masks.
Christian Aid’s church engagement officer for South London Peggy Amoako said: “In times of crisis the poorest, most vulnerable and marginalised are at the greatest risk. The health care systems in the countries we work in can barely cope with their everyday caseloads let alone a pandemic – Sierra Leone for example does not have a single ICU bed.
“Here in our country, we are seeing fantastic examples of coronavirus bringing people together, of neighbours across London and the South East helping those who are vulnerable.
“Christian Aid Week might not have been a community celebration in the usual sense, but this challenge shows us how community can still thrive in different ways.
“Please support Kingston’s ministers if you can, so we can help more desperately vulnerable people protect themselves.”
To donate visit and to find out more about the challenge search for @walkforawholeworld on social media or visit the websites and Facebook pages of any of the participating churches.