Tackling inequality and creating leaders — the inspring growth of Run Brum Crew
29 March 2023
Back in Christmas 2018, Michael Parker had an idea: to set up a diverse running group in Birmingham that would bring people together and help tackle mental health issues.
As running had helped him when he faced challenges, he saw the vast potential of running to build a supportive network for the local community. One that would create opportunities and change lives.
Run Brum Crew was born.
The group got off to a slow start, Michael had to persuade a few friends to join him after nobody appeared for the running group's first outing. Fast-track to today, Run Brum Crew is now at the heart of the running community in Birmingham. Members have been inspired to become running leaders and the group has taken part in an innovative pilot programme. The objective of this is to boost diversity and inclusion in the sport.
The group has also provided mentorship support alongside local charity Sport 4 Life which is in partnership with RunTogether. This has opened opportunities for young people in the area to get involved in the sport.
We caught up with Michael to learn more about the group and their plans for the future.
Why did you decide to set up Run Brum Crew? How did RunTogether help you get the running group off the ground?
“There were a few reasons that all came to a head around Christmas 2018. Mental Health awareness had become a big thing at work, and I’ve always felt running has helped give me perspective when I’ve had challenges, which was something I wanted to share. Also, if you wanted to get involved in some kind of group or social sport in the city centre, the main option four years ago was to join a gym class as there aren’t any big parks in the centre.
RunTogether offered the perfect framework to set it up, with the backing of the app for booking. With supportive staff in the background, it made sense to become a LiRF and get ourselves set up.
I had a goal to make it as inclusive as possible. Having been a member of running groups previously, and not being made to feel very welcome as I wasn’t going to be competing for prizes, I was very conscious that I wanted everyone to feel part of it.
All our Crew Runs are free, and the kit is available to everyone.”
Are you seeing a wide range of people getting involved with the running group?
“We have a diverse spread of people coming along to our running group in Birmingham, which is something we are constantly trying to encourage. We were also lucky to have some fantastic run leaders join us early on whose enthusiasm was infectious – a special shout out to Hannah who has been a superstar!
Our weekly post-run social is a big part of what keeps the group vibe strong. We’ve had a great relationship with Purecraft Bar right from the start. We will run for 40 minutes, and then spend a couple of hours chatting together over a drink. We attract a lot of people who are new to the city and looking to make new friends. A couple of relationships have even blossomed here too.
Getting recognition from the Commonwealth Games, when our running group was endorsed by their community programme United By Birmingham 2022, was great in helping spread the word about us as well as creating relationships with other groups in the city.”
How did your partnership with Sport 4 Life come about? How has RunTogether supported this work?
“We were introduced by one of our runners who had been doing some work for them. She thought there could be potential for us to work together – and she was right! Thanks Beth! After meeting with their team, it was clear there would be loads of opportunities to partner together. This included our “Run The City” mentoring scheme, where our runners are paired with some of the young people at Sport 4 Life.
RunTogether provided funding to both Sport 4 Life and Run Brum Crew to help train new run leaders, with the aim to help increase representation in running groups from all backgrounds. This has been invaluable in helping to grow our running group while also supporting Sport 4 Life. The new run leaders will allow us to increase the number of sessions we can hold each week, as well as hold different types of sessions. Sport 4 Life are in the process of creating their own RunTogether group for the young people they work with, and their staff, which we will be on hand to support with.”
Run Brum Crew has helped members of their running group to develop their skills into leadership roles through CirF/LirF and has provided mentorship opportunities to those in the community. Can you share any success stories?
“Several of our runners who may have only run socially have really caught the run leader bug since becoming LiRF’s. They have been incredibly supportive in helping the running group to grow, encouraging our newer runners in the same way that our original run leaders encouraged them. Since our new LiRF’s have been out leading runs, we’ve received many messages of thanks for the support they’ve offered and the positive and inclusive environment they create.”
What benefits have you seen following the decision to become a RunTogether group?
“Firstly for insurance purposes, I wanted to make sure our run leaders were protected should we ever have any incidents. The online booking system and app make life so much easier to keep track of who is coming each week! It’s a must that all our runners book via the app, as we have a cap in place each week. It’s also great to have support from a national organisation if we ever need any tips or advice.”
What do you hope to achieve with Run Brum Crew in the future?
“We hope to increase the number and type of sessions we can offer our runners, as the number of people running with us keeps growing. Our run leaders are incredibly enthusiastic. I’m conﬁdent we’ll continue to provide something unique to Brummie runners. Unlike most running clubs that focus primarily on the physical beneﬁts, our running group’s focus will continue to be on the mental and social beneﬁts that running can bring. It’s a common thread that runs through everything we do.”
Do you have a story to tell?
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