What parkrun do
The worldwide phenomenon that is parkrun organised their first event inside a prison at HMP Haverigg in Cumbria in December 2017. Since then, a further 28 parkruns have been established inside men’s and women’s prisons, young offender institutions and correctional facilities in the UK, Ireland and Australia. The benefits to detainees, their families and staff have been immense, providing not just weekly physical activity, but acting as a springboard for positive change in many other areas of their lives.
Why they contacted the Alliance of Sport
After parkrun were first contacted by HMP Haverigg’s gym manager Shane Spencer in the hope of setting up a weekly parkrun, their Head of Health and Wellbeing, Chrissie Wellington, got in touch with the Alliance of Sport to help navigate the necessary channels to reach the decision-makers and help convince them of its potential positive impact.
What we did to help
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. “He has been invaluable in connecting us with people – ministers, civil servants, Professor Rosie Meek, governors and many other organisations.”
The Alliance of Sport’s support has been vital in the success of the initial parkrun at HMP Haverigg and its subsequent growth across the custodial estate worldwide.
“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,” said Chrissie. “Justin has opened so many doors. I can’t sing his praises enough. The Alliance are just really keen to see organisations working in this landscape succeed.”
Chrissie, Justin and Professor Meek spoke at the prestigious Elevate conference at London’s Excel Arena in June 2019 to highlight the success of the prison parkrun project. Chrissie described it as a “real highlight” which celebrated our two-year journey together in establishing parkrun as a vital part in the weekly routine of prisoners, their families and staff.
Justin commented: “The initiative has been the catalyst for much thinking, talking and action around the social benefits of sport and activity and volunteering. It has set off a proactive and positive avalanche of social movement!”