Running for the community in Liverpool

A new scheme where runners combine getting fit with supporting older people and working on community projects is to launch in Liverpool later this month, and is looking for runners across the city to sign up.

Instead of running for miles on a treadmill or lifting weights, GoodGym Liverpool runners will channel their energy into a workout that benefits people in their community, as well as their own health.

GoodGym group runs take place each week and involve a short run led by a trainer to support a community organisation with a task such as planting trees, shifting earth, or clearing derelict land.

As well as the group runs, GoodGym runners can also choose to be paired with an older person, aged over 60, and run to see them for a weekly social visit, called coach runs, before running home again.

Runners can also help older people with one-off household tasks that they can’t do themselves, such as fitting new lightbulbs, moving heavy furniture or some gardening. These are called mission runs.

Signing up is easy. Just visit www.goodgym.org. GoodGym will then pair them with an older person.

GoodGym, which started in London, has been proven to reduce isolation and loneliness and to improve well-being for both runners and the older people they visit.

GoodGym Liverpool has been made possible by a partnership with Liverpool City Council.

Deputy Mayor, Cllr Ann O’Byrne – herself a keen runner – said: “This is a fantastic scheme which not only helps people keep fit but also helps them give something back to the community.

“We know that social isolation affects both people’s mental and physical health and with an ageing population we need to encourage as many ways as possible for people to remain connected to their communities.

“In recent years, we have had to scale back our preventative services such as good neighbour schemes due to cuts in Central Government funding. GoodGym has the potential to makes a real difference to our older people.

“People in Liverpool are famed for their willingness to help others and there is already a vibrant running scene in the city. I’d encourage runners to sign up with GoodGym and use one run a week to make a difference.”

Ivo Gormley, founder of GoodGym, said: “GoodGym is a really easy way to integrate doing something for your community into your exercise.

“If you’re already running then it can only take 15 mins to change your route and drop in to visit an isolated older person.

“If you’ve never really considered running before, or lack the motivation, then the community that GoodGym provides and the different reasons to run can be a really easy route in.”