Running group to be set up by double Olympian in Norwich aims to tackle social exclusion

Paul Evans, left, with Norwich Mind CEO Amanda Hedley, and Vanessa Norris, who took part in Run Norw

Paul Evans, left, with Norwich Mind CEO Amanda Hedley, and Vanessa Norris, who took part in Run Norwich for Mind. Photo: Norwich Mind - Credit: Norwich Mind

A running project which aims to reduce isolation and social exclusion will be launched in Norwich by a double Olympian.

Paul Evans, who competed in the Barcelona Olympics in 1992 and in the 10,000 metres final at the Olympic Games in Atlanta in 1996, will lead a running group in the Lakenham and Tuckswood areas of Norwich.

The partnership between Norwich and Central Norfolk Mind, Active Norfolk, Community Action Norfolk's Energise programme, and Run Norwich is set to begin in January.

And the hope is over eight months, 30 runners will challenge themselves to compete in the Norwich 10k 2018 road race with the help of physios, sports psychologists and mental health support.

The groups will be open to both novices and more experienced runners, all of whom experience mild to moderate mental health problems.

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Each runner will be coached by volunteer buddies, many of whom have mental health conditions themselves and for whom running is an important part of maintaining their recovery.

Some will have completed this year's 10k road race for Norwich Mind, who were one of Run Norwich's chosen charities.

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Mr Evans will lead the group initially, but organisers hope to train up one of the runners as run leader to continue the project.

Ruth Taylor, head of partnerships at Norwich Mind, said: 'We are really thrilled to be following up our involvement with Run Norwich again this year in such an innovative and meaningful way for this community. We know that running is a great way to improve our overall happiness, health and mental wellbeing, and the power it has to alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety. Just like the #Runandtalk initiative nationally, we are setting out to prove that running at whatever pace can be fun and rewarding for everyone, particularly when you do it in good company.'

Ellen Vanlint, sports development officer at Active Norfolk, added: 'This is 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.'

Anyone who lives in Lakenham or Tuckswood who is interested, either as a volunteer or participant, contact

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