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parkrun celebrate two years in custody

On the second anniversary of its first foray into the custodial estate at HMP Haverigg in Cumbria, parkrun has thanked the Alliance of Sport for its role in helping to establish events in prisons across the globe. 

Residents in men’s and women’s prisons, young offender institutions and correctional facilities are now walking, jogging, running and volunteering at 10am every Saturday morning in a ground-breaking initiative that has changed the lives of prisoners and staff. 

In the last two years, over 20 parkruns have been set up on the custodial estate in the UK, two in Ireland and six in Australia. More than 23,000 walks, jogs and runs have been completed, clocked up by over 4,000 parkrunners, and there are 26 prisoners in the 50 milestone club. 

Alliance of Sport Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer, Justin Coleman, was instrumental in connecting parkrun with key figures inside and outside the prison system who helped with the complex and delicate process of getting the initiative up and running. 

“Justin and the Alliance of Sport have supported us from day one, with no vested interest or ulterior motive,” said Chrissie Wellington, parkrun’s Head of Health and Wellbeing. 

“I can’t sing Justin’s praises enough. He is just really keen to see organisations working in this landscape succeed. He has been invaluable in connecting us with people – ministers, civil servants, Professor Rosie Meek, governors and many other organisations. 

He has opened so many doors. It’s been fantastic to work with him. The Alliance of Sport’s help has enabled us without a shadow of a doubt to progress this initiative. It’s great to have them as part of the team. 

Justin, Chrissie and Professor Meek spoke at the prestigious Elevate conference at London’s Excel Arena in June to promote the success of the prison parkrun project. Chrissie described it as a “real highlight” which celebrated their two-year journey together in establishing parkrun as a vital part in the weekly routine of prisoners, their families and staff. 

Justin himself commented: “I love hearing all the feedback about parkrun’s success, particularly based on what was within the Health and Wellbeing Survey 2018: UK report. The initiative has been the catalyst for much thinking, talking and action around the social benefits of sport, activity, social connection and volunteering. It has set off a proactive and positive avalanche of social movement! Keep on keeping on!”

Parkrun has written an in-depth blog charting the two-year progression of parkrun in the custodial estate, including testimony from many of whose lives have been enriched by its introduction. Read it here. 

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