Struggling to deal with final year stresses, dissertation deadlines, and job applications? Olivia McGuiness has found a solution- quite literally to run away from it all. Well, sort of. Liv is a final year UoM student studying English Literature and Linguistics. As if the essays weren’t enough, she has also chosen this year to run the London Marathon in aid of the disability charity Livability. Fortunately, she found a bit of spare time in-between running and revision schedules to have a little chat about her upcoming 26.2 miles and why she feels that every mile is worth it.
Last year saw Liv running the Manchester marathon, as well as two halves, allowing her to raise a total of £2000 for Eden Valley Hospice. Despite sustaining an injury at mile 16 of the Manchester marathon, she succeeded in hobbling the remaining 10 miles to the finish line. In 2018, she bounced back again and according to her JustGiving page, was willing to “happily train in the snow and torrential rain.” Studying in Manchester, her weather predictions weren’t exactly far-off this year, but she did confess that she wasn’t exactly grinning from ear to ear when she came home ‘absolutely soaked at the end of 10 miles’. Nonetheless, she explains, ‘it’s good to prepare yourself for all weather conditions’, and at the end of the day you ‘get used to it’.
Running a marathon is a challenge that most people would quite willingly let slip by. Liv, on the other hand, not being entirely satisfied with simply running that distance itself, has chosen to do it in her final year at University. She tried to explain that ‘it forces me to train’, ‘[it] helps me to find a healthy balance between study and exercise.’ I couldn’t have sounded entirely convinced because she soon owned up that sometimes the dissertation deadline does get the better of her. Nonetheless, charity is clearly not something to be put on hold for Oliva McGuiness!
Livability, Liv’s chosen charity, is a British charity that works to promote social integration for disabled people. According to their website, ‘Britain has been called the ‘Loneliness Capital of Europe’’, something they bear in mind with their services for the disabled. The organisation hosts all kinds of events, from boxing matches to horticultural therapy for disabled people – ‘it looks different everywhere but it all adds up’. Livability boast some hugely positive statistics on their website. They have enabled 220 churches to run special disability-focused services through their ‘Ability Sunday’ campaign, and currently have 70 disabled individuals enrolled on their horticultural program ‘Flourish’.
Liv’s main motivation for choosing this charity is her belief in supporting smaller charities. This is a view that is becoming more prevalent in our society, as seen in our interview with Finn of Dig Deep Fundraising. She tells me that after having worked with Enactus during her second year at UoM, she realised that she enjoyed seeing the direct results from her work. This is why she traveled to Ghana last summer with ICS where she worked directly with the children involved with the charity Youth Alive. Livability, she explains, is a smaller charity in need of awareness and publicity, one that her marathon will have a direct effect on.
Talking about awareness, I was curious about Liv’s thoughts on a charity that doesn’t offer physical solutions to disability but rather works as a source of support. She explained to me that there are loads of charities out there raising money in attempts to find ‘long-term solutions’, and that these tend to be the ones that people tend to give money to. She specified that in the process of supporting disability, we need to remember its everyday impacts. She herself says she cannot begin to imagine the struggle of dealing not only with a life-changing disability but on top of that coping with social barriers, those which are given less attention, but can so easily be mitigated.
Having spoken to Liv about this, I have started to understand her determination to take on the challenge of tackling a marathon at the same time as her dissertation. Witnessing her passion and dedication in the words of the Livabilty slogan, ‘it all adds up’.