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. 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 licenced 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.
Over the next 12 months England Athletics and British Blind Sport are 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. If you’re interested in becoming a guide runner visit England Athletics website here 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.
Nick Thorley is a visually impaired runner from Nottingham who runs with an England Athletics licenced guide:
“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. It’s the generosity and commitment of guide runners that makes all this possible. Strangely, I find running with someone gives me more of a sense of freedom and independence than anything else I’ve done.”
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.
“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 Licence 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.”
Liz Purbrick, National Disability Manager at England Athletics said:
“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 licenced 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.
To find a guide runner visit www.englandathletics.org/findaguide.
Join the conversation on social media using #FindAGuideAndRun.