Press releases

Thousands raised by selfless ShelterBox supporters during Lent

ShelterBox supporters have raised over £11,000 by taking part in its annual Tent for Lent challenge.

29 April 2024

A collage of ShelterBox supporters

Press release – 29 April

Supporters of the international disaster relief charity, ShelterBox, have raised over £11,000 for people around the world left without shelter after disaster by taking part in its annual Tent for Lent challenge.

Around 300 people supported the fundraising campaign this year. It encourages people to give something up, take on a challenge, or organise a fundraiser, and donate the money raised or saved to support people uprooted from their homes because of disaster and conflict.

People from all over the UK have been getting creative in their efforts, giving up their beds, litter picking, and running miles.

One supporter set herself the challenge of swimming 7,166 metres: one metre for every kilometre between her home in High Wycombe and Damascus, Syria, and back again.

Sarah Wanigasooriya, an Occupational therapist working for the NHS, says: “I wanted to take on a swimming challenge with a distance that was significant, both in metres for me and in relation to ShelterBox.

“Syria is one of the many places the charity is working in and has been working in for more than ten years. I chose the distance in hope that it would get people talking about the ongoing issues and what people in Syria have been facing for so many years.”

Every year the church Sarah attends, St Francis of Assiss, chooses an organisation to support during Lent. This year’s chosen charity was ShelterBox.

The Cornwall based charity supports people around the world who have been displaced by conflict or disaster. By providing shelter aid, and other essential items like solar lights, mosquito nets, and kitchen sets, ShelterBox supports people to rebuild and recover after disaster.

The charity has been supporting people in Syria since 2012, responding to conflict and more recently those displaced by powerful earthquakes.

Sarah, 47, continues: “The congregation at the church came together to organise lots of fundraising events for Tent for Lent including afternoon teas, coffee mornings, and quiz nights. I decided to go solo with my ‘sponsored swimathon’.

“I used to be a keen swimmer when I was younger, but my skills as an adult have declined. I also have mild cerebral palsy, so walking and running are not my forte, but my husband says I’m a different person when in a swimming pool. 7,000 metres proved a good enough challenge.

“I swam every week during Lent, including a moonlit swim at the local lido. Despite having to squeeze in a few lengths on my lunch breaks, I was thrilled to finish my challenge a week earlier than expected, and to raise a good amount of money for such an important cause.”

Through her JustGiving page, Sarah raised £765 for ShelterBox, which will help support its projects around the world.

Another supporter, a churchwarden from East Sussex, has raised over £4,000 in a sponsored camp out. Heavy rains, cold temperatures, and a few eventful nights were not enough to put Richard Hunt off, spending seven nights camping outside his church in support of the campaign.

John Stanbury, community fundraising assistant at ShelterBox, says: “We’re grateful to all our amazing fundraisers. It’s been so wonderful hearing about the different ways people have been involved and it’s humbling to see so many coming together to support people they will never meet.

“Together we can celebrate the impact made by emergency shelter after communities are pulled apart by disaster or conflict. Wherever the need is greatest, whether in response to the flooding in Malawi, the conflict in Gaza or displacement caused by famine in Somalia, we can make a life-changing difference.”

Other fundraisers include a woman from Cornwall, who completed 40 days of litter picking, cleaning up her local area as well as supporting the charity. Alongside her dog, Groot, Jenn Sandiford went litter picking rain or shine and raised over £700.

Another donation came from 67-year-old Alison Jones, a community worker from Tower Hamlets, who taxed herself on every leisure activity during Lent. Cinema tickets, restaurant meals, and family outings all incurred a ‘leisure tax’ which was donated to the charity.

As well as donating money from her leisure activities, Alison, who has multiple sclerosis, walked one mile for 40 days to raise additional funds for the charity through sponsorship. Nearly £700 was raised from both challenges which will help support ShelterBox and its programmes around the world.

Since it was founded in 2000, ShelterBox has supported over 2.5 million people in around 100 countries.

The charity is currently responding in Malawi where heavy rain has caused severe flooding, damaging and washing away homes. A ShelterBox response team has been working with local people and CARE Malawi to distribute tarpaulins, tools, water filters, solar lights, and other essential items.

ShelterBox is also responding to conflict in Gaza, Mozambique, Cameroon, and Yemen.

People wanting to find out more about ShelterBox, can do so by visiting:


For more information contact the press office at ShelterBox via [email protected].    

Notes to Editors    

  • Images and captions included.
  • Interviews available with Sarah Wanigasooriya, Alison Jones, Richard Hunt and ShelterBox’s community fundraising assistant, John Stanbury.