Local mum Jude Harford has taken on Home-Start Wessex’s ‘Find your 50’ challenge, raising vital funds for the charity which supports local Dorset families in crisis.

Jude swam 5.25 miles along the length of Coniston Lake in the Lake District in her 50th year. Already a tough challenge, the swim was even harder for Jude as a ruptured cruciate ligament scuppered her training, and she was only able to swim with her arms.

“Being someone who loves a challenge and who was also entering their 50th year, I jumped at the opportunity to help raise money for this amazing charity. Through my work, I see on a daily basis how much people are struggling with the cost of living and need the support of organisations such as Home-Start. I know how much of a difference the support of Home-Start makes to young families. The opportunity to support them was something I immediately connected with. I was determined to complete the challenge and raise as much money for this fabulous charity as possible,” Jude commented.

“Sometimes it’s tempting to take the easy route. To not push yourself. And that’s fine as long as you’re happy with the cruise control on. However, pushing yourself out of your comfort zone can lead to amazing achievements, which give you immense personal satisfaction and a sense of pride.

Completing the swim was one of those days for me. Despite my injury, I was determined to complete it and enjoyed every minute. I feel so proud of myself for managing it after a physically tough six months, and it’s a reminder that where there’s a will, there’s a way. Don’t hold yourself back. Dream big and push yourself to achieve!”

For 50 years, Home-Start volunteers have been there for families. A shoulder to lean on, specially trained volunteers have been by the side of families facing their most challenging times, providing friendship, advice and practical help. These little moments of support add up and make a huge difference to children’s future health and happiness.

Here in Dorset, Home-Start Wessex supported a record 402 local families over the past 12 months, transforming the lives of over 1,300 parents and children. Their volunteers make a huge difference to families, and they’ve never been more needed. The charity supported an additional 156 local families this year, with demand up 63%. More and more families are struggling every single day and reaching out for help.

Caroline Pope, Community & Corporate Engagement Manager at Home-Start Wessex, said, “To celebrate Home-Start turning 50 and raise the vital funds we need to continue to support local families, we are asking people to Find Your 50. Do 50 squats. Read 50 books. Eat 50 hot dogs. Find something fun to do related to 50 and help raise money for Home-Start Wessex in the process.

Jude has got us off to a fantastic start with her amazing swim, and we are incredibly grateful for the hundreds of pounds she has raised for the campaign. We know what we need to do to support local families, and we’re confident we can, but we can’t do it alone. With the support of our amazing local community, we can achieve great things. Together, we will be there for every family who needs us. Because childhood can’t wait, and neither will we.”

So what’s your 50? Find out more at https://homestartwessex.org.uk/50-years/ or donate directly at https://www.justgiving.com/campaign/homestart50.