Hello my name is Max, I am in year 9, and I signed up for my Bronze Duke of Edinburgh of which volunteering is part of the challenge. I have been doing some work at school with my teacher around mental health and well-being, and every year 1 in 4 people experience a mental health problem, but yet people are still struggling alone with their mental health.

Over the the past year, COVID-19 restrictions and lockdown has impacted people’s lives, everybody has experienced different feelings, struggles and anxieties. I have seen the affects of the pandemic, my parents were furloughed; routines and normality changed. I now attend online home school, I can’t see my friends and a lot of my family. I can’t practise my drums or guitar until after my sister, a teacher has finished her online teaching. I have to be quiet when my sister (a paediatric intensive care nurse) is working a night shift and I have heard first hand the reality of what the virus is doing and seen the upset when she returns home from work.

In October all of our household tested positive for COVID-19 and we had to self isolate; I was one of the last ones to test positive so my isolation lasted for 3 weeks. My dad was taken to hospital for tests but thankfully was discharged. My normal life has changed, what we are allowed to do has changed and lots of uncertainty!

So, I decided to set myself a challenge of walking/running a least 5km every day for 12 weeks (25.01.21 - 25.04.21) It’s my attempt at volunteering in my local community and to raise money for Hertfordshire Mind Network. There are plenty of benefits too. For starters, it's an easy way of improving my physical health and there are mental health benefits too. Taking on this 12 week challenge will help boost my confidence and self-belief, as I will prove to myself that I can set myself a target and achieve a goal. Exercising regularly is also a great stress reliever and has been shown to help improve mental well being.

So please support me and help raise money for Hertfordshire Mind Network, a charity, which supports and empowers people experiencing a mental health problem ..... more people are struggling during these exceptional and challenging times. Thank you, Max.

Max Hurrell-Wills