The Virgin Money London Marathon has given its official support to the new running charity, SPAT, providing financial backing for the next two years to help it expand its innovative services, to engage with and help more homeless young people. SPAT (Social Purpose And Time) uses running as a catalyst for proactive and productive social change.
Engaging homeless youths in regular running & fitness-based activities run by voluntary instructors from local running communities, as well as inspiring professional athletes, in a supportive and safe environment, the aim is to empower young people, dispelling negativity and instilling confidence and self-worth – fundamental in their personal development.
Nick Bitel, chief executive of London Marathon, said: “London Marathon is delighted to be able to support this innovative new charity as part of our corporate social responsibilities. It’s long been recognised that sport can be an important tool for tackling social exclusion but this is the first time we have seen running used explicitly for this purpose.
“SPAT has shown within its first year that running can be used successfully to improve the employment, education, health and social life chance of young people. As an organisation which promotes the joys and benefits of running, we are pleased to be able to help it expand its activities, to bring support to more homeless young people over the next two years.”
Participants typically encompass a range of high support needs including mental health issues, drug and alcohol misuse and anti-social behaviour. SPAT is focused on addressing the underlying issues and counteracting harmful repeated patterns with healthy and productive lifestyles. Harnessing the psychological benefits of regular activity and improved physical health, it has and will continue to support more young people in successfully transitioning into employment, education and accommodation.
Tony Young was homeless for six months before taking part in the SPAT programme – now in long-term accommodation, he also volunteers with the charity: “SPAT taught me not to underestimate myself; they supported me every step of the way, helping me to overcome struggles and achieve goals I never knew possible. Now my life is back on track, I’m so much more positive and feel like I can pretty much accomplish anything.”
Find out more about SPAT at the charity website.