Why To Hill and Back?
I began running to manage my own mental health around 3 years ago. I found that I would frequently run alone, but enjoyed my improved energy and fitness. I decided to set a run group up in my village if Dunsop Bridge, Centre of the British Isles, with such amazing scenery it was perfect, and so I became a run leader through a national organisation from England Athletics called RunTogether.
This is me before a run, if it was after I would look like a beetroot!
I set up To Hill and Back as the first run I did to the hills in the village was hard, I wouldn't say it was hell but it did make sense for the name. The group does run to a hill and back for their sessions. So as a play on words, the group name was born. I feel it also represents what we aim to do in helping people who may feel they are going through hell and we can help bring them back.
In fact you can see one of the hills just behind these cows!
Whilst promoting the group locally I found that many people loved the idea of the group but were themselves busy working, looking after children, commuting, as well as working on farms and in the service industry. And running just isn't their thing.
So with that in mind, my idea for the outreach project came from speaking to locals who want to be part of an outgoing group but struggle with finding time away from commitments and or were limited by where and how they could travel. And I do know many who feel stressed for one reason or another.
Rural areas are seeing a decline in public transport, with an increase in social isolation leading to depression. The purpose of an outreach network would be to reach out and get more people involved in the running group or as part of our Brew, Walk and Talk group, open to everyone of all ages and abilities; walking is just as beneficial to mental health as running. The network aspect will allow individuals to make connections with like minded people by bringing them together.
The Crowdfunding project aims to achieve the following:
1 cover the cost of room hire for group meetings and socials, a "hub" for meeting up.
2 assist in volunteer training in first aid, mental health first aid and run leadership/coach qualifications.
3 provide marketing materials to promote the group and reach those without social media access.
4 cover transport costs for people without their own transport so they can attend.
Here is what our supporters have to say:
"Living and working in a rural area doesn't give many opportunities to socialise... its not like people can just "drop in for a brew", living where we do. Having the opportunity to meet up with like minded people at the running group allows me have a chat, laugh and exercise with like minded people, which is invaluable for me living in a very rural setting." Sarah Verity, To Hill and Back Member.
"Social isolation is a big risk factor for poor mental health as is lack of exercise. This project combines physical activity with connecting people to their community and has the potential to improve the well-being of our rural community, which can struggle from isolation at the best of times. I will be delighted to refer people to this service to improve their well-being and mental health" Dr Amy Bonner, GP, Slaidburn Country Practice.
CEO Jude McCann of FCN (Farming Community Network) states “Farming can be a very rewarding job but for some it can become an isolating and lonely occupation. It is important to recognise the importance of mental wellbeing in our rural communities and to address this through social interaction and connectedness. Maintaining fitness is a great way to develop your mental wellbeing and resilience, as well as an opportunity to interact with groups of likeminded individuals”
Crowdfunding for the project will not only allow us to cover costs but if our target is exceeded we will be able to help neighbouring villages establish their own hub as part of To Hill and Back and supply equipment such as head torches and reflective vests.