Going through ‘hell’ to support the homeless

thisisoxfordshire: Thomas Cranshaw is preparing to ride a 156-mile route in France called The Hell of the North for homelessness charity Emmaus Thomas Cranshaw is preparing to ride a 156-mile route in France called The Hell of the North for homelessness charity Emmaus

A student is tackling a gruelling 156-mile one-day cycle ride to support a homeless charity in Cowley.

University of Oxford medical student Thomas Cranshaw, 21, is preparing to cycle from Paris to Roubaix for charity Emmaus.

He will attempt the one-day 250km route dubbed “The Hell of the North” to raise £1,000 for the charity on Saturday, August 16.

Mr Cranshaw said he wanted to support the charity after being moved by the struggles of the city’s homeless people.

He added: “There is a stark contrast between the lives of most Oxford students and those of the homeless and at risk that can be easy to ignore.

“I wanted to both increase awareness and raise money for a great Oxford charity and I chose Emmaus specifically as a locally acting charity.”

The route is one of the oldest cycle routes in the world, first attempted in 1896.

It features in the Tour de France and its distance, rough terrain and cobblestones often force competitors to drop out.

But Mr Cranshaw, who is from High Wycombe, is determined to take up the French challenge.

He completed the Midlands 100km Tour of the Black Country bike ride in May in preparation for this month’s challenge.

Mr Cranshaw is aiming to complete the route in 12 hours Emmaus, which is based in Oxford Road, Cowley, has been supporting residents at risk of homelessness since March 2009.

Emma Watkins, 36, has received help from them for the last five years and currently lives in the charity’s Oxford Road housing development.

Miss Watkins had been battling a 20-year heroin addiction and four years of homelessness before receiving the charity’s support.

She said: “Without Emmaus I might be dead right now. It seems extreme but it’s a possibility. There’s nothing else like Emmaus in Oxford. There are vulnerable people who are not getting the right help.”

Currently on a methadone treatment program to curb her addiction, she said the team provides her with the structure and support needed to lead a drug-free life.

She added: “Five years ago people wouldn’t have recognised me.

“I’m a different person now and that’s a lot of thanks to Emmaus.”

To sponsor Mr Cranshaw, visit virginmoneygiving.com/parisroubaix

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