If Santa brings you some shiny new running shoes or clothing this Christmas, a new charity that encourages women experiencing or at risk of homelessness to try running will happily take the old ones off your hands (or feet, as it were).
A Mile in Her Shoes (AMIHS) creates, leads and supports groups for women who are
vulnerable to homelessness so that they can experience running as a way to
exercise, socialise and to boost confidence and self-esteem. Sessions are led by volunteers who are qualified run leaders, keen to help them to reach their own personal goals and get the same benefits as any other woman who runs.
The model continues to be developed with input from a number of homelessness organisations and will encourage participants to access further support services to address issues surrounding homelessness. A pilot with a large homelessness charity has led to greater interest and new running groups will begin in London in the New Year.
AMIHS provides trained and insured female volunteers to lead mixed ability groups as well as all the appropriate clothing including sports bras and trainers suitable for running. Almost all of the kit is donated by other runners and participants get to keep what they’ve worn after their session. Snacks and water are provided too and the
activities are suitable for all fitness abilities.
A Mile in Her Shoes started as an idea to find a way to break down any barriers for
women who are homeless to experience the positive gains that so many women from all walks of life feel. An initial small grant through London South Bank University’s social enterprise scheme with UnLTD helped get the project up and running and it has been growing ever since.
“Running may not seem like an activity that you would associate homelessness, but there are so many physical and mental health and fitness benefits, not to mention thecchance to be part of something that is inclusive and welcoming,” says Nicola Miller,
founder of A Mile in Her Shoes. “Everyone involved with us does so on a voluntary basis and it’s been exciting to be developing this into something that can be rolled out on a wider scale.”
Some of the kit that is donated is re-sold through pop-up shops at running events,
with all proceeds going towards the work of the charity. The AMIHS logo is added to the items so that women can show their support when they buy and wear it. “Wearing our logo is way to reinforce the message that the differences between one woman and another are minimal when they are running,” adds Nicola.
Now AMIHS is now looking for runners who are interested in getting involved with the new volunteering programme. “We’re looking for support to enable us to develop our programme into a successful running community for women,” says Nicola, “where the
differences between members who are homeless and the volunteers who give their time to it becomes obsolete.”
Learn more about how to get involved with AMIHS here.