A new project, designed to utilise the benefits of running as a means of boosting the mental health and well-being of the local homeless population, was launched at Calderdale College last Wednesday, 20 April 2017.
The ABS Foundation, the charity arm of Elland-based print specialists ABS UK, have teamed up with Community Foundation for Calderdale (CFFC) and Calderdale SmartMove to deliver the Home Run Project, which aims to help participants deal with and overcome issues typically associated with homelessness, including alcohol and drug addiction, stress, depression.
The Project has the ultimate aim of training participants to race in the 2018 Great North Run. The ABS Foundation has made a donation of £9,000 to support the initial aims of the project, which is being implemented in conjunction with Calderdale SmartMove, a local charity that assists homeless and vulnerably-housed people to find accommodation in Calderdale.
The runners received trainers, clothing and other equipment to assist them with their training and were mentored by members of Northowram Pumas running club. Staff volunteers from ABS UK Ltd have also ‘buddied up’ with participants and will train alongside them in the weeks ahead. Safe and warm training facilities were provided by Calderdale College, who have provided further support by producing training plans for participants. T-shirts and bags were donated free of charge by Calder Screenprint.
Mayor of Calderdale, Cllr Howard Blabrough said: ‘It was a privilege to attend the launch event of The Home Run Project and witness the start of what I am confident will be a great journey for the participants. I’d like to commend ABS for this wonderful initiative, and express my admiration for all of those who have made financial donations and given up their time to support the project.’
John Lees, managing director and founder of ABS, said: ‘Following months of planning, we’re delighted to have been able to finally kick things off with the launch at Calderdale College. We’d like to thank those who have already made donations to support the cause, and encourage those that would like to make a positive contribution to what we are trying to achieve by getting in touch. Anything from unwanted trainers to old running vests would be gratefully received.’
Martin Haigh, founder and director of Lattitude 7, said: ‘It was incredibly uplifting to be present at the launch and to talk to the potential runners who expressed interest in taking up the sport. These runners received a pair of trainers, a t-shirt and a copy of our running book to start them on their journey.
‘I wish the team well and, as a UK Athletics leader in Running Fitness, I am pleased to be a Running Buddy to guide some of the Home Run runners along their journey towards completing a half marathon next year.’
Training will take place at Calderdale College on Wednesday nights and Saturday afternoons. Project organisers are currently appealing for donations of running equipment, such as trainers, clothing and hi-vis gear, to help those starting out.
The Home Run Project is on Twitter @HomeRun_Project, or contact SmartMove on 01422 361515 for further information or to get involved.