Running scheme piloted to bolster mental health in Norwich

Active Norfolk’s Paul Evans and Norwich MIND’s Dudley Garner will be supporting runners in the new P

Active Norfolk’s Paul Evans and Norwich MIND’s Dudley Garner will be supporting runners in the new Pace of Mind programme. Picture: Active Norfolk - Credit: Archant

A new project to help bolster mental health through running is being piloted in two Norwich districts.

Norwich and Central Norfolk Mind is now recruiting for its Pace of Mind programme.

It is the first local initiative to provide mental health support services alongside physical training to achieve a running goal and help alleviate the symptoms of depression and anxiety.

Dudley Garner, UK Athletics Mental Health Ambassador and Pace of Mind Project Coordinator at Norwich Mind, said: 'For many people with mental health issues, the stigma surrounding the problem is far worse than the diagnosis itself.'

He added the project was an opportunity to get people talking about mental health to 'break the taboo'.

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The pilot of the project is taking place in the Lakenham and Tuckswood areas of Norwich for residents who are experiencing mild to moderate emotional distress.

It is being delivered in partnership with Active Norfolk and Community Action Norfolk's Energise programme, which is one of two pilot Sport for Change projects in England funded by Comic Relief and Sport England.

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Ellen Vanlint, Sports Development Officer at Active Norfolk, said: 'The Energise initiative uses sport and physical activity to empower this Norwich community to create social change and have a positive impact on local issues, including poor mental health and access to community services.

'This is also a great opportunity to create a strong community of runners of all abilities and backgrounds, whom we hope to support to carry this passion forward into the future.'

Over 16 weeks, runners will be supported to develop their physical and mental health whilst training for a 5k or 10k race. Experienced running coaches, including Double Olympian Paul Evans, will be helping participants improve their fitness, and learn to run safely.

Participants will be supported with physios, equipment, and lots of encouragement from volunteer 'buddies,' many of whom run to maintain their recovery from mental ill health.

The training programme will begin on April 9, giving participants 16 weeks to train for the Run Norwich 10K road race.

Recruitment will be open until March 19. To apply or volunteer, visit or email Dudley Garner at

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