16 Sep

Good Runners

Runners lending a hand at the library

A simple, yet ingenious idea born in London borough of Tower Hamlets is set to benefit both runners and elderly people in need in one fell swoop. The Good Gym - the brainchild of keen runner and documentary maker Ivo Gormley - have come up with the clever notion of pairing runners with elderly and isolated people who require assistance to meet on a weekly basis.

For the elderly resident in the region - often on their own - they receive a regular and reliable visitor who can provide welcome company as well as running a small errand such as bring a newspaper or performing a quick task around the house such as changing a light-bulb.

For the runner, it provides that extra incentive to get out of the door and do their session on a given night, as well as the satisfaction of doing something good for their community. With around 30% of Londoners suffering from isolation, The Good Gym was formed to tackle the problem and allow people to get fit at the same time.

Of course, as in commonplace in the modern world, to be part of the scheme each member must be CRB checked before they are paired up. Originator Ivo Gormley spoke to www.southernrunningguide.com about his innovative idea. He said: "It was something I'd been thinking about a long time. A lot of energy goes into running on treadmills or lifting weights at the gym, but it's all just to help yourself.

"I was trying to think of a way all this energy can be used to help other people. Living in a city I became increasingly aware of the issue of isolation - around 1 in 10 people over the age of 65 see family just once a month. So I came up with this idea.Even if it is just five minutes once a week, that is a lot better than nothing. I have been visiting a bloke called Terry for a couple of years now. I pop round once a week for a quick chat and now the relationship has developed, I send him Christmas cards and I even went to his birthday.

"It really makes sure I get out and do my run because I know Terry is waiting for me. We have around 30 people as part of the project, both runners and isolated people. I want that to expand to 300 within 12 months and move into new areas of London."

The group also organises community run for runners every month, where the organsers can get to know runners and runners can find out more about the project. Of course, each gathering combines a run, with doing something good. The first one took place on Monday 16 August and saw the group tidy a local outreach centre in the middle of their 30-40 minute session. The most recent gathering was on Monday 13 September and saw the group undertake some heavy lifting and tidying at the local library. For more information on this initiative, see www.thegoodgym.org