LiRF course given thumbs up by Mencap


The commitment of England Athletics to both diversity and inclusiveness was evidenced at a recent coach education course which took place at Alexander stadium in Birmingham.

The Leadership in Running Fitness (LiRF) course qualifies and insures attendees to lead a running group, typically in their own communities. Aspiring leaders ordinarily go on to work with either adult or junior beginners and improvers at the recreational end of the sport.  This particular course was closed in the sense that it accommodated 12 attendees who were either employees, volunteers or service users of Mencap, whose mantra is that they serve ‘As the voice of learning disability’.

The course received rave reviews on social media, with tweets from attendees including,  "It sure was one of the best and most inspiring training courses I have ever been on." and "Great to meet you today - exhausted but probably one of the best training courses I have attended in many years."

Lead Tutor on the day was Rachel Berney who told us that, "The course aim was to support those with learning difficulties practice and learn how to lead a recreational running group. Delivering this course was terrific fun. A lot of shared learning took place and I do hope that further courses will reach even more people who wish to share their love of running."

Rachel was supported by Co-Tutor Matt Long, who reflected, "This was one of the most enjoyable and productive courses which I have had the privilege of delivering in my five years as a tutor. I had to adapt my style of delivery to accommodate the diverse needs on the course and Rachel and I found ourselves getting the attendees to focus more on visual images than written words and also giving them the freedom to focus more extensively on the opportunity to practice leading on the practical sessions on the course."

He continued, "Credit has to go England Athletics Coach Development and Education Manager Paul Moseley for his vision, and to Coach, Teacher and Officials' Education Coordinator (Midlands and SW) Tina Beresford, for the logistics of putting the course together alongside Club and Coach Support Officer, Stephanie Cameron. In addition the guidance of Liz Purbrick as National Disability Manager (Community Participation) was invaluable in terms of her emphasis on understanding the differences between what constitutes a ‘learning disability’ and a ‘learning difficulty’."

It is hoped that several of the attendees will, over time, develop their running leading skills and go on to progress to the Coach in Running Fitness qualification offered by England Athletics.

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