In October 2018, a group of asylum seekers from Sudan, Yemen, and Somalia, stood on the beach at Shek O, straining their eyes to catch sight of a bobbing object amidst the choppy waves. As the object came closer, they began to cheer, waving their handmade signs. The “object” was Richard Letcher, who had just completed a 13km swim in the open waters with the help of two kayakers, to raise money for refugees in Hong Kong.
In just over a week, Richard will once again be braving the open waters to raise money for Christian Action – Centre for Refugees and RUN. On 5th October, both charities’ teams and refugee participants will gather at Deep Water Bay to cheer Richard on as he completes a 15km swim from Stanley Beach. In 2018, Richard raised nearly HK$90,000, which was split between the two charities, and he’s hoping to break that record this year so that he can impact more refugees in Hong Kong.
Richard is the co-founder and Managing Director of Profile Search & Selection, which organises an annual company-wide CSR campaign, encouraging colleagues to do an activity to raise funds for chosen charity. The initiative started nearly 10 years ago, when Richard and his co-founder Andrew Oliver, began to get involved with charitable causes in their free time. They wanted to take their community service one step further by raising money for the causes they cared about, and by involving the whole company, and the campaign was born. Colleagues choose different activities based on their own interests and hobbies including selling homemade baked goods, embarking on a physical challenge like hiking or swimming, or giving up sugar for a month. “We all raise money in our own little way, then collate it at the end,” says Richard. “Most of us are doing things that we want to do, so it’s a massive bonus that we’re raising money.” As someone who loves swimming, particularly in the ocean, it was a no-brainer for Richard to choose this as his fundraising challenge.
Richard admits that choosing a charity to support is a tough decision. In this case, the Profile team were introduced to the plight of refugees in Hong Kong through a basketball programme for refugees. “We try to look for charities that really need our support,” Richard says. “It’s nice to choose a charity where people are very passionate about it.” As an active person himself, Richard was particularly drawn to RUN’s use of sports as rehabilitation for refugees who have experienced extreme trauma: “I feel very frustrated for refugees in Hong Kong. RUN has created a solution for when they’re going through a problematic time in their lives.”
Richard suggests that they key to his fundraising success is to keep the message short and simple, and appeal to a wide variety of people, each of whom may connect to his fundraising challenge on a different level. For some it may be his “crazy” swim that captures their imagination, for some it may be reading about the situation facing refugees that tugs on their heart strings, or for others it may be the lived experience of the impact of sports that connects them to RUN’s approach.
We’re grateful to Richard and the team at Profile Search & Selection for going the distance for RUN and refugees in Hong Kong. Join us in cheering Richard on by making a donation to his fundraising page!