If Santa brings you some shiny new running shoes or clothing this Christmas, a new charity that encourages women experiencing homelessness to try running will happily take the old ones off your hands.
A Mile in Her Shoes (AMIHS) creates, leads and supports groups for women who are vulnerable to homelessness so that they can experience running as a way to exercise, socialise and to boost confidence and self-esteem. Sessions are led by volunteers who are qualified run leaders, keen to help them to reach their own personal goals and get the same benefits as any other woman who runs.
The model continues to be developed with input from a number of homelessness organisations and will encourage participants to access further support services to address issues surrounding homelessness. A pilot with a large homelessness charity has led to greater interest and new running groups will begin in London in the New Year.
AMIHS is looking for volunteers to get involved with the next phase of its pilot in London, so if you have a fitness qualification (such as Leadership in Running Fitness) or even if you are just a keen runner who can spare some time to get involved with a local group, please email Nicola at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more.
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AMIHS provides trained and insured female volunteers to lead mixed ability groups as well as all the appropriate clothing including sports bras and trainers suitable for running. Almost all of the kit is donated by other runners and participants get to keep what they’ve worn after their session. Snacks and water are provided too and the activities are suitable for all fitness abilities.
A small amount of the surplus kit is being re-sold through pop-up shops at running events, with all proceeds going towards the work of the charity. The AMIHS logo is added to the items so that women can show their support when they buy and wear it.
A Mile in Her Shoes started as an idea by Nicola Miller, a keen but amateur runner from London who wanted to find a way to break down any barriers for women who were homeless to experience the positive gains that she and so many other ladies she knew from all walks of life had felt.
“Running may not seem like an activity that you would associate homelessness, but there are so many physical and mental health and fitness benefits, not to mention the chance to be part of something that is inclusive and welcoming,” said Nicola. “Everyone involved with AMIHS does so on a voluntary basis and it’s been exciting to be developing this into something that can be rolled out on a wider scale.”
Now AMIHS is now looking for runners who are interested in getting involved with the new volunteering programme. “We’re looking for support to enable us to develop our programme into a successful running community for women,” says Nicola, “where the difference between members who are homeless and the volunteers who give their time to it feels irrelevant and obsolete.”
How you can help:
1. Donate your spare or unwanted sports clothing and running shoes, even if they are used.
The charity is new but growing fast and will need donated running shoes and clothing to keep it going. It will continue to re-use donated items with its running groups and re-sell other items at its pop-up shops to runners at a bargain price. The clothing will have the AMIHS logo added so that women can show support when they buy and wear a second—hand piece of kit, with all proceeds going towards the work of the charity. Send clothing to Nicola Miller c/o London South Bank University, 103 Borough Road, London SE1 0AA.
2. Volunteer to get involved with a running group
3. Spread the word
Make Christmas about giving as well as receiving…
Elle 🙂 x