Phil Packer MBE supported Lincoln participants in their British Inspiration Trust (BRIT) Challenge which started on 23 January 2023 and will run until 23 March 2023.
The University of Lincoln, UK, organised a 23-hour cycle challenge where exercise bikes ran non-stop thanks to staff and student volunteers. The challenge was in aid of BRIT which connects universities and colleges across the country to support better mental and physical wellbeing for all adults, raising money to be split equally between the BRIT charity and a local cause.
Phil Packer MBE said: “Thank you to everyone at the University of Lincoln for taking part in the BRIT Challenge this year and uniting to improve student and staff wellbeing, destigmatise mental health and champion equality, diversity and inclusion.
“Over the past three years, over 300 university and college teams have embraced the BRIT Challenge and we hope that this will become a firm fixture in the HE, FE and Specialist College Calendar of Events.”
After sustaining catastrophic injuries whilst with the Armed Services in Iraq, Phil was told he would never walk again. However, after just under a year of hospitalisation and rehabilitation, he completed the London Marathon, rowed the English Channel and scaled El Capitan in Yosemite National Park, all in the space of six months. In his first year of embarking on extreme physical challenges, Phil raised £1.3 million for Help the Heroes.
These extraordinary endeavours inspired Phil to found BRIT, a charity that encourages others, particularly students and young adults, to improve their physical and mental wellbeing through an annual challenge raising money for chosen charities. The University of Lincoln selected Lincolnshire-based Bromhead Medical Charity, an organisation that offers grants to people who have typically either had to wait too long for healthcare or their operation is not available on the NHS. Many of the people they help require mental health services.
Rosie Damarell, Employee Wellbeing & Engagement Manager at the University of Lincoln, said: “The BRIT Challenge offers a wonderful way to bring our One University community together toward a collective goal, to raise awareness and funds to support physical and mental wellbeing.
“It has been proven time and time again that exercise is intrinsically linked to mental health, so it has been fantastic to see so many staff and students participate in the 23-hour cycle event to kickstart the challenge. Over the next two months, the BRIT Challenge will give further opportunities to participate in activities that help support the wellbeing our community, including a 23 Acts of Kindness project.”
Following the completion of the bikeathon, Phil Packer, founder and unpaid CEO of BRIT, spoke about the origins of the charity and his vision to develop it in the coming years. Staff and students were then given opportunity to volunteer their own ideas for the collaborative progression of a charity dedicated to supporting their wellbeing.
Shumile Chishty, a student at Lincoln Medical School, attended the talk and commented: “Being a medical student, we learn a lot about taking care for others and learning how to manage our patient’s mental health. However, at times medical students forget the most important person, which is themselves.
“After having heard Phil (MBE) speak about BRIT and the aims of the charity, which is to support young adults’ mental health, it got me thinking about innovation in mental health for medical students.
“One ambition I left with was to work towards establishing a community of mental health advocates and students to create awareness and help create an accessible system by which medical students and other healthcare students have the reassurance of support when it comes to mental health. Hopefully with the aspirational students at both Nottingham and Lincoln, a change can be made.”
Inclusivity is central to BRIT’s ethos, therefore, initiatives such as the 23 Acts of Kindness encourage participation by those who may not be able to undertake a physical challenge. Lincoln College are also running a diverse program of events over the two month BRIT challenge which is this year focussed on the theme of ‘2023’.
People can still donate to the 23-hour cycling fundraiser by visiting givestar.io/gs/FDIWKQD