Colleagues and learners at HMP Haverigg have taken part in the first ever prison based parkrun event.
parkrun UK, a non-profit organisation that supports 670 communities across the country to coordinate free volunteer-led 5k and 2k events for walkers and runners, was approached by the prison earlier this year. Enthused by the opportunity to provide innovative physical activity and volunteering opportunities for offenders as well as staff, the Governor of HMP Haverigg was keen to set up a weekly parkrun event on the prison site.
Offenders currently have access to sports opportunities, but in addition to providing the chance to be physically active in the open air, parkrun has the added benefit of promoting personal development through volunteering. This includes event management, interpersonal communication and team building, providing prisoners with pathways into education and training and valuable skills for when they are reintegrated into society.
parkrun’s Head of Health and Wellbeing, Chrissie Wellington, said: “Every day we hear stories of how parkrun has improved people’s mental, physical and social health and transformed their lives. We aim to ensure that as many people as possible can benefit from parkrun, and this includes creating events that are accessible to people in prison.
“In taking the pioneering and bold step of developing the inaugural parkrun on an HMP site, we are offering prisoners, their families and prison staff, the opportunity to reap the wide-ranging benefits of regular, enjoyable, social and safe physical activity and volunteering opportunities. The prisoners themselves will help to deliver the events every week, providing an empowering sense of responsibility and ownership. With more than 670 free, weekly parkruns across the UK, family and friends can also take part in parkrun, providing a unifying interest and shared experience.
“parkrun events also provide a welcoming, supportive and non-judgemental community for the prisoners to be part of when they reintegrate into society, and help to continue that process of personal development. The beauty is that this initiative is eminently scalable, and can be rolled out across the prison estate in the UK, and even globally should there be the demand.
“Although there is no one silver bullet that can be deployed in the battle to prevent offending and re-offending behaviour, we feel that parkrun can be a unifying force for good in the desistance from crime and changing lives for the better.
Sally Garratt, Operations Director for Novus, said: “This is an exciting opportunity for our colleagues and learners. parkrun is an inclusive event that offers our learners physical activity, volunteering opportunities and wider benefits – helping them develop employability skills, creating an opportunity to support their families and the wider community – which all helps to support rehabilitation.
“We are currently working with parkrun UK to develop a partnership that will allow us to support them to roll out events in establishments across the country.”