East Lothian woman launches ‘global swim club’ ahead of mammoth 860km charity swim

An East Lothian woman is taking on a mammoth 850km swim challenge to raise money and awareness for children’s mental health services in the UK.

Gullane resident, Lisa Shaw will swim around the five Balearic Islands across three years to raise money for YoungMinds UK.
Gullane resident, Lisa Shaw will swim around the five Balearic Islands across three years to raise money for YoungMinds UK.

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Gullane resident, Lisa Shaw, plans to swim the circumference of the five Balearic Islands, with proceeds going to children’s charity, YoungMinds UK.

Lisa’s first fundraising challenge is set to go ahead this September, swimming around the island of Formentera in under 24 hours – a distance of 72 km.

Lisa swims approximately 50km each week to prepare for her charity swim in September.

Following this feat, Lisa will swim around Menorca (185km), Ibiza (260 km), Mallorca (312 km) and Cabrera (25 km) over a three-year period.

To boost fundraising efforts, the 39-year-old endurance swimmer will launch "Lisa's Global Swim Club" this week – a scheme that encourages people of all abilities, from all over the world to join the swim in their local pool or body of water whilst Lisa carries out her epic challenge.

By joining the club, each swimmer will be able to raise their own funds towards the cause, and in return, Lisa’s club offers an online community group and a training programme to help people along the way.

All money raised will go towards YoungMinds UK’s “Fund The Hubs” campaign which will create a network of self referral hubs across the nation to provide early intervention support for young people struggling with their mental health.

Lisa, who was diagnosed with PTSD at a young age, said the idea came to her when she was swimming in the ocean seven years ago whilst living in Ibiza.

Lisa said: “I’d been out on the water for quite some time and I realised just how much this had been supporting me mentally – it had become the main support of my mental health.”

She added: “I stopped at one point and I thought to myself, how can I use this to help children who maybe struggle with their mental health? Ever since then it’s been a journey of trying to figure out how I would get to this point.”

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By working with YoungMinds UK, Lisa hopes more young people will have access to help when they need it the most.

The long distance swimmer said: “The waiting list is near three years on the NHS and the number in children’s suicide is rising – especially since the pandemic.

“Every penny will definitely help towards that but it’s the awareness that really needs to be spread as far and wide as possible.”

“When it comes to children, it’s really important that it’s caught in that moment so having self referral hubs means children can just take themselves and get that help.”

She added: “Prior to the lockdown we were already in a pandemic of mental health in children – now we are in a real crisis.”

Julia Garden, Community Engagement Officer at YoungMinds UK said: “Thanks to people like Lisa, we can continue our work fighting for the mental health of children and young people across the country and work to make sure that no young person feels alone with their mental health.”

For more information and to get involved with the global swim club you can visit: www.thefiveislandswim.com. You can support the cause by donating to www.gofundme.com/f/swimming-860km-for-children-mental-health.

Information on YoungMinds UK, including advice for young people and parents, can be found on their website at www.youngminds.org.uk.