#RunAndTalk: Mike's story

Haywards Heath Harriers Mental Health Champions Mike Parish and Marion Hemsworth were proud to host a run for this year’s #RunAndTalk Week campaign in partnership with Mind, the mental health charity.  

Like many running groups across the country, they were keen to get back to organised runs following the periods of lockdown and it was #RunAndTalk week which inspired Mike to showcase how mental wellbeing can be improved through running.  

Mike explains:  

"I noticed how many people had started running during lockdown as a way to get fit. Sitting behind that is the increase in mental health issues that lockdown has created."

Obtaining his Leadership in Running Fitness (LiRF) qualification gave Mike the confidence to establish a new group in his workplace with Sussex Police. He sees this as an opportunity to thank those who have worked tirelessly for the emergency services throughout the pandemic, under very challenging circumstances. Last week marked the first #RunAndTalk organised run for the Sussex Police force which Mike hopes will be a 'taster' of things to come: 

"I am looking forward to seeing where this will go and develop from here. There has been lots of interest despite all workers being on 24/7 shift patterns. I’d like to make this a monthly run and potentially bring the Ambulance Service into the group as well."

Supporting the run was none other than the Chief Constable of Sussex Police, Jo Shiner who is excited about linking in with England Athletics and Mind for the benefit of her staff. She commented:

“Run and Talk is an excellent initiative which encourages all types of people to get out in the fresh air and walk, jog or run at a pace which suits them. The combination of fresh air, good company and a listening ear can make all the difference to someone who doesn’t know where to start talking about their worries. It also means that you are not ‘faced’ by someone, and instead they are ‘by your side’, both physically and metaphorically speaking. I am very proud that Mike is leading this important initiative on behalf of Sussex Police.”

Mike's tried and tested route for the course takes in the old town of Lewes in West Sussex, home of Sussex Police HQ and cuts through two parks and some country lanes alongside the River Ouse. 

Affiliated clubs and RunTogether groups can apply to be part of England Athletics' #RunAndTalk programme.