Above The Fold

National Guide for Visually Impaired Runners Launched

Visually Impaired Runners with Guides

Valuable Resource Available for Visually Impaired to Access Running with a Guide in the UK

England Athletics and British Blind Sport have launched ‘Find a Guide’, a national guide runner database to support more people with a visual impairment to run. The database is an online tool for anyone aged 18 years or older with a visual impairment, whether they have never run before, are a gym-goer looking to take their running outdoors or a seasoned runner looking for a new guide. Visually impaired runner with Guide runner – endurance race. It will enable visually impaired people to go for a run on their own, join a club or running group or take part in an event or race

The simple search function within the database allows users to search for a guide runner in their local area. All guide runners on the database are licensed which means they are DBS checked and have attended an England Athletics ‘Sight Loss Awareness and Guide Running’ workshop.

The launch of the Find a Guide Database is part of a national drive by England Athletics and British Blind Sport to support more visually impaired people to get active through running by putting them in touch with trained guide runners in their local area. There are currently 112 guide runners registered on the database across England, in particular guide runners are available in Cambridgeshire, Gloucestershire Leicestershire, London, Nottingham, Hampshire and South Yorkshire.

“Running has become a massive part of my life. It gives me a focus, makes me feel healthier, has increased my confidence and provides a real sense of achievement.

Visually impaired runner with Guide runner. Over the next 12 months, England Athletics and British Blind Sport will be working with various partners and running clubs and groups across England to find and train more guide runners so that there are guides in all areas of the country.

Click here if you’re interested in becoming a guide runner and to find out more about attending an England Athletics ‘Sight Loss Awareness and Guide Running’ workshop.

The need for the database has been highlighted by latest figures from Sport England’s Active People Survey 9, December 2015, which show that only 11.8% of adults with a visual impairment take part sport once a week, compared to 39.3% of non-disabled adults. England Athletics and British Blind Sport hope the new database will encourage more visually impaired adults to access the support they need to take up running or enjoy more frequent runs.

Wendy Lawson is from Redhill Road Runners in Nottingham and is a guide runner for a visually impaired runner called Iris: “I find being a guide so rewarding as any events that I undertake with Iris are about helping her to succeed. I love the bond that Iris and I have, we always fall into step with each other she is a great friend and not just someone who I guide.

Visually impaired runner with guide runner: “I love the feeling that I can ‘give something back’ to a sport that I came into in my 40s. Members of my own club gave up their own running time to bring my running on. I like to think that I’m giving it back via my Run Leader License and guide running with Iris.”

British Blind Sport, the national charity committed to enhancing the provision of sport and physical activity for blind and partially sighted people, is delighted to work in partnership with England Athletics to develop the Find a Guide database. Alaina MacGregor, Chief Executive at British Blind Sport said: “The Find a Guide database is the product of an excellent project between British Blind Sport and England Athletics. We hope that the database will allow more visually impaired people to enjoy running, safe in the knowledge that they can connect with a guide runner who is trained, vetted and passionate about running.”

Visually impaired runner with Guide runner, Liz Purbrick, National Disability Manager at England Athletics added: “We’re really pleased to launch the Find a Guide database to help more visually impaired people to run. Whether they are new to running, want to get back into running or already run the database can help them connect with licensed guide runners to support them.”

Running is one of the most accessible and low-cost ways to be active and meet government recommendations to be moderately active for at least 150 minutes per week. Whether it’s to get fit, improve health, make friends or take on a challenge running has something to offer everyone.

Source: England Athletics

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