Cleobury Mortimer Running Club: providing running opportunities for those seeking asylum

Athletics and running are inclusive for everyone. Cleobury Mortimer Running Club (CMRC), West Midlands Club of the Year 2022, have demonstrated this through their provision of a welcoming club environment.

The club recently opened their doors to some new runners to their community, who found themselves in the area having fled some sadly difficult circumstances. Many of them are from African countries and arrived with nothing but the clothes they were wearing. They took the local parkrun by storm, even without running gear.

“Michael [one of the new runners] had no knowledge of parkrun. He ran in whatever clothes he had, and apparently despite stopping twice, still came 5th.

Cleobury Mortimer Running Club Chris and new runner“We introduced the guys to CMRC members and Wonkey Donkey AC in Kidderminster when they came to parkrun, and I asked around for any spare kit. The running community have been a brilliant support, donating running kit and shoes, and offering loads of other help and encouragement.”

Following from this assistance, the four guys have found their stride at parkrun, with Michael often coming in first place. The support from the running community has also stretched beyond the sport helping the runners to feel welcome and make good friends.

“They have also benefitted from being amongst wider society, getting used to our local area, the change of cultures, and the chances to practice their English. This has also helped to improve their confidence and self-esteem.

“Due to the complicated and sadly difficult circumstances that brought them to the area, they often had little to do, and suffered from frustration and anxiety, so running was a useful pastime to consider.”

They are strong runners and bring a positive attitude to every session. Therefore, everyone was keen for them to have opportunities to run different routes and compete for the club. Making this a reality was complicated, but by having all seven Club Standards in place and being a well-managed club, they are better placed to support their members and the broader community. CMRC were able to support both volunteers and members to contribute to the positive experience of the new members.

“It can be a bit difficult for everyone (I have discovered) to get everything to ‘work’. With meal times, transport, the time available, costs, considerations of safeguarding of the guys and various other things such as clothing to suit our weather.”

“Recently, Michael, Dean and Yohannis were able to run at an event in Bridgnorth – something that they really looked forward to. They came 5th (Michael), 9th (Dean), and 14th (Yohannis). I know it was a special event for them, and they have passed on heartfelt thanks for the support and friendship that have found here.”

They have found camaraderie in the CMRC and took great pride in opportunities to represent the club. Together the club created an inclusive and welcoming club environment, based on having all seven Club Standards in place, to make these opportunities a reality.

The setup and governance of this club helped them to provide a positive and welcoming inclusive environment. Does your club want to be able to do the same?

Learn more about Club Standards

Regional Volunteer Awards 2024

The 2024 Regional Volunteer Awards will be running later this year and CMRC’s work to provide opportunities for those seeking asylum is a great example of the type of nominations we hope to receive for Community Project of the Year. We are seeing more clubs do community focused work and other examples of great nominations would include – fundraising for local charities, promoting mental health and foodbank runs.