Bristol SU RAG (the Raising and Giving Society) run two exciting challenges for Bristol students. The first of these is LOST, which took place over this past weekend. Students were blindfolded and abandoned in a mystery location and had to race to get home, completing challenges along the way. The second is Jailbreak, which will take place later this year. The aim is to get as far away from Bristol as possible, whilst raising money for charities. I met with two guys who took part in Jailbreak last year, LOST this weekend, and plan to take part in Jailbreak again this year.
Firstly, can you explain a little bit about what Bristol SU RAG do?
Luke: It’s a student led organization which runs across loads of universities nationally and they basically do loads of fun stuff for charity. They do challenges like The Gorilla Trek, Mount Kilimanjaro and the Everest Base Camp. They also have pub quizzes and they have a student run Casino which runs at the formals.
Angus: Students choose charities at the beginning of the year and RAG work all year putting on events. Last year they raise £65,000 for the chosen charities.
How much money did you manage to raise, and for which charities?
Luke: For LOST each team had a target of raising £120, which we matched. The total was just over £2000. For Jailbreak we smashed it, raising over £200. We got so much support from family, friends, students and people along the way. The chosen charities for this year are Meningitis Now, Jacari and the Trauma Recovery Centre.
Angus: Jacari is a student run charity which provides tutoring for children who don’t speak English as first language; a lot of them are refugees. Meningitis Now raise awareness and helps to fund research into meningitis. The Trauma Recovery Centre is Bristol based. They have play centres where they use creative therapy to help children recover from traumatic events. They also help to train people who work with young people and families, and they provide an after-care service for survivors of human trafficking.
With regards to Jailbreak last year, how far did you get?
Angus: We got to Paris and back again.
Luke: The winning team actually managed to get a flight to LA but some people got stuck at Dover.
How did you manage that?
Luke: We got a lot of lifts, which got us across the channel. Then we were stuck at a petrol station for over 7 hours in rural France and we were both passed out over a coffee table. A group of rugby lads woke us up and offered us a lift on their coach. They’d been told we were desperate by the lovely women who worked at the petrol station who had given us free hot chocolate.
Angus: They took us to Le Havre. We were given $35 at the petrol station because people thought we were homeless and that bought us a train to Paris from there. The most memorable lift was when we got picked up by a man in his new Ford Mustang who drove whilst I fed him chicken and chips.
And how did you do this weekend?
Angus: We started off really well. You can do challenges along the way which lowers your time, such as milking a cow or getting a haircut. We got to Oxford really quickly but then we got cocky and ended up coming second to last.
With both LOST and Jailbreak, did you find people were mostly willing to help?
Luke: There was a few times where we genuinely thought we’d lost hope in humanity. People would stop, let us walk over to their car but then drive away from us.
Angus: But most of the time when we got talking to people they were more than happy to help. A woman this weekend even gave us her favourite scarf to help us complete a challenge.
Did you feel safe?
Luke: The majority of the time, yes. We did have a safe word for when we felt uncomfortable though. We used it once, in a drive from a pub to Dover port where we feared for our lives.
(what they thought may be their final texts)
Any funny stories?
Angus: Yeah, we got detained by the French police for a few hours because the person we were getting a lift with didn’t end up having a real French passport. The French police didn’t understand why we were in onesies.
Luke: On the way back from France we both fell asleep on the coach. When I woke up I couldn’t see Angus and the bus was about to go through the Euro Tunnel. I panicked and caused a massive drama, forcing the driver to stop the coach but he had just moved seats.
Any advice for other students?
Angus: Stay positive. Try not to fall out with your teammates.
Luke: Don’t question it or panic too much, just deal with every situation as it comes. Also have patience!