Running to stay off the streets
Alex Eagle, Co-founder and CEO, The Running Charity
In the United Kingdom, The Running Charity use the benefits of running to help young and vulnerable people stay off the streets
The Running Charity was founded in 2014 and delivers running and personal development programmes to young people affected by homelessness. When it comes to explaining our work, people tend to be split into two groups, runners and non-runners; runners often instantly understand the value in what we do but for the non-runners it is often a big leap to see how something as simple as putting one foot in front of the other can make a tangible difference to someone’s life.
For someone experiencing homelessness, effort doesn’t always result in a positive outcome. Structural issues such as a lack of housing and underfunded support services can often contribute towards an endless loop of rejection, frustration and a desire to reject a system that has so often failed them.
“Challenging what they feel they can achieve”
Running is different, what you put into it you get back out tenfold. The Running Charity helps support the young people we work with to take positive steps to control one area of their lives, their wellbeing.
It takes a lot to run a marathon, the thought of it alone puts most people off. You don’t run one overnight either, you must break it down into manageable chunks, you must commit to a process and set small goals to achieve a big one. That journey will throw up challenges, heartache, and setbacks and your reaction to these situations is paramount – you must pivot, adjust your training and continue to focus on that goal.
This goal-setting mentality is so intertwined in running that it serves as a powerful and transferable skill that can help navigate so many of life’s pitfalls. We work towards “impossible moments” to help challenge our young people’s perspective of what they feel they can achieve – this can be a 5km fun run to an ultra-marathon – but once they have crossed that finish line, they know they can push themselves forward towards a better and happier future.