Working in partnership with Calderdale Smartmove, Crossfit Defiance and Calderdale College, the ABS Foundation and the Community Foundation has together provided free training to a large number of disadvantaged people within Calderdale for whom access to sport/exercise is not available.

The project has received a sum of £10,000 from the ABS Foundation which was match funded by Community Foundation For Calderdale, since April 2017.

The Home Run project is a running group created to support people with issues associated with homelessness including depression, drug and alcohol addiction and those seeking asylum.

The project engaged a group of 30 regulars, a staggering eight members took part in the Great North Run, Sunday 9th September 2018.

Initially aimed at the homeless community, the project subsequently accepted participants from SmartMove’s partner organisations dealing with victims of drug/alcohol addiction, mental health issues and asylum status. The programme remains open to anyone encountering socio-economic barriers to inclusion in sport and exercise.

Along with completing the Great North Run, the HomeRun Project has had a number of successful outcomes:

  • Physical well-being; improved speed, strength and aerobic endurance, paralleled by reduced incidence of alcohol, tobacco and substance use
  • Mental well-being; created enjoyment and happiness, increased confidence and self-esteem and reduced anxiety, stress and depression
  • Individual development; improved employment opportunities, increased levels of self-confidence, development of soft skills
  • Social and community development; bringing people together from diverse backgrounds

Kevin Shiels was isolated as a recovering addict and joined the Home Run project with his partner Fiona.

Thanks to Home Run, he has a new-found confidence and now attends regular parkruns as well as training sessions with Halifax Harriers.

“I feel like I have known this group for years. I had never run before in my life and our progress made us want to come back week after week,” said Kevin.

“Before I was judged based on my past but now people look at me and see a runner. The reality of my background is there is a lot of stigma attached to addiction and it used to put up barriers.

“People like Damian (running coach at HomeRun) have accepted me for who I am from the very beginning. He is awesome at what he does and has taught me to believe in myself. I have a lot of respect for him, everything I am doing at the minute is because of him.”

Fiona struggled with depression and anxiety and has seen her confidence grow over the last year. She is now part of an online running community and even managed to keep up her training while she was pregnant. Weeks after having their baby, she was back running.

“We are both so proud of how far we have come. The project has brought me back to life,” she said.

“The social side of things has helped me greatly. We’re like one big family because we are having so much fun while getting fit has kept me going.

“I am looking forward to running the Simplyhealth Great North Run with the group and crossing the finish line with Kevin. Emotions will be very high.”

Hussaim Hadi sought asylum in the UK from Yemen and ended up homeless, suffering from depression, stress and anxiety.

He relied on the use of medication to help him sleep and to combat his mental health. A year later he is medication free and has found a love for running.

“At first, running was hard for me, there have been times when I did not know if I would be able to carry on but the team have pushed and encouraged me,” said Hussaim.

“Physically I feel in good shape, mentally I no longer rely on medication. I feel healthy and happy which is something I have not felt for some time.

“Our coach has been amazing, I have been really surprised by my progress.”

Steve Duncan, CEO of Community Foundation For Calderdale said:
“The project is brilliant, real personal stories and real lives being changed for the better through a simple but effective idea to raise people’s esteem and sense of achievement through running. We are incredibly proud of the HomeRun Project and proud of corporate generosity shown by ABS.

Community Foundation for Calderdale funds many projects each year but this is right up there for me because ABS cared enough to put company money in to help those less fortunate to literally get back on their feet again.

I hope a little of what this company has achieved can rub off on other local companies to support projects that help many more people get active.”