Charles Allen: There’s nothing wrong with challenging the status quo

There's nothing wrong with challenging the status quo, says Charles Allen. Picture: Mark Hewlett Pho

There's nothing wrong with challenging the status quo, says Charles Allen. Picture: Mark Hewlett Photography - Credit: Archant

I'm sure many of you will have read Mark Armstrong's recent EDP article which, in my opinion, raised some important questions about the Norfolk running scene.

I found reading the range of responses equally interesting with people from a variety of running backgrounds getting involved in what became, on the whole, a very passionate debate.

Personally, I like articles that ask the difficult questions and challenge the status quo. That make us question the way we are doing things. Improvements to our practice as a running club and/or health professional can only be strengthened when we are prepared to listen to feedback, really challenge ourselves to be better and, at times, learn from the success of others.

One thing that came to mind for me, in reading both the article and the responses, was that we also need to raise the debate on what it means for clubs and health professionals to fulfil their duty of care. There are many passionate and dedicated professionals and volunteers out there helping to run and coach at running clubs across the county. I recognise that the professional versus volunteer balance is always going to be a hard one to strike and that these people are often central to the club's existence. But for me the debate around duty of care is less about who is running things and more about how things are being run.

A few of the questions I would like to see discussed are these;

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- Are club across the county doing everything they can to understand the 'physical activity readiness' of new members? Do new members have to complete a Par-Q for example?

- Are all coaches (voluntary or professional) qualified in, at least, basic first aid?

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- How are clubs going beyond what they are required to do under the terms of their insurance to ensure that the environment being offered is as safe as possible?

- What advice on medical issues and training injury diagnosis is being offered? Are those offering this really qualified to do so?

I'm not saying that some clubs haven't got this right, I am saying that I believe more needs to be done in this area. Club committees and members need to be encouraged to continually challenge the way structures, policies and procedures are aligned to their duty of care. And in doing so, ensure that all our clubs are providing safe, fun and engaging places for people to come together.

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