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Ideas for change: The Home Run project

Local business in Calderdale helps homeless people get back on track through long-distance running scheme.

A company that specialises in print management has linked up with local homeless charities to make a positive difference in their community.

ABS Print, based in Elland, West Yorkshire, participate in charitable efforts under the banner of The ABS Foundation, the charitable arm of the company, and their latest initiative is The Home Run Project.

The Home Run Project is being run in conjunction with Calderdale SmartMove, a local charity that helps homeless and vulnerably housed people in the area find accommodation, and the Community Foundation for Calderdale, which provides services to the benefit to the local homeless population, including education and training.

The aim of the project is to provide relief from mental stress and anxiety and a boost to the wellbeing of homeless people living in Calderdale, through the medium of long-distance running.

Research has demonstrated that running can help with a type of brain function called neurogenesis.

This is the process by which our brains create new neurons and make new connections. Studies have found that running at a gentle moderate pace promotes neurogenesis in the hippocampus and this has the effect of reducing stress.

The project attracted an initial group of 12 participants to the inaugural training session held at a local sports centre earlier this month, with the ultimate aim of training participants to race in the 2018 Great North Run.

Several local organisations and businesses have already chipped in with the effort, providing kit and equipment, including trainers and clothing, while others have volunteered their services as mentors to the participants, including members of local running clubs.

Staff volunteers from ABS UK have also ‘buddied up’ with participants and will train alongside them in the weeks ahead.

John Lees, managing director and founder of ABS, said: ‘We concluded from our discussions that the ABS Foundation should focus its resources on addressing and engaging with homelessness in Calderdale in 2017, and this has resulted in the creation of The Home Run Project.

‘Being homeless doesn’t always mean sleeping under cardboard on the street, and in fact there are actually very few of these cases. It can mean living in shelters, sleeping on a friend’s sofa or staying in hostels.

‘Many people who deal with the challenges of homelessness are given support of food, shelter, clothes and accommodation.

‘But The Home Run Project will instead focus on helping to boost the mental health and wellbeing of those try to get their lives back on track.’

Training will take place in the weeks ahead on Wednesday nights and Saturday afternoons, and project organisers are currently appealing for donations of running equipment, such as trainers, clothing and hi-vis gear, to help those starting out.

  • To find out more, follow The Home Run Project on Twitter @HomeRun_Project, or contact Calderdale SmartMove on 01422 361515

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