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to anyone learning to run not just the wall of the marathoner but walls of any kind.

These people dream to run forever

 

Runforever is a grass root non-profit organisation and running club learning from the experience of the wall of the marathoner ways for living and thriving through these walls in prisons and communities. Around the 35th km in a marathon, runners can hit a limit of endurance which they liken to a wall and collapse for mental or physical exhaustion unless they learn to run forever. The wall of the marathoner is a paradoxical educational experience which opens a new perspective on the wall as a limit, no longer as a barrier to be crossed in a hoped-for transition from inside to outside, but as a threshold to be inhabited, leading to enhancement of self-worth and liberation of a different kind.

Walls are ubiquitous and pervasive in western societies. They highlight a tendency for separation and defence. They can impact the community creating inequalities and undeletable stigmatizations. Within this context Runforever starts at small scale with the activity of a running club as a bridge overcoming walls welcoming at the same time prisoners and non-prisoners for addressing issues of reoffending, monitored by a team of experts and the support of an international network. Starting from an idea by Paolo Maccagno and a few successful experiences in the prison of Bollate-Milan (Italy 2013-2014) and at HMP YOI Grampian (Scotland 2016), it has been constituted in early 2023 for promoting educational community projects exploring paths for humanising prison care and more generally health care towards a future society fostering difference and variation.

Behind this commitment, it opens questions about walls. What creates a wall? how can we unlearn to make one? What is to respect difference without creating separation? It doesn’t aim to give definitive answers to these questions but in turn asks “what is to run forever” by proposing projects in prisons and in the wider society based on marathon running and the Feldenkrais method (educational practice of awareness, attention and posture) as invaluable practices of care suggesting possibilities of dignity and personhood. These practices enable the formation of a community of support between people (prisoners and non-prisoners) and help build connections with their families. This contributes towards breaking the barriers and walls between them, as running clubs do: “And we will all be Runners…”

Runforever is participating in the collective dream of a different way of being in the world.

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Last news!

May 2024

Feldenkrais at HMPG

 

 

Runforever offers a new educational project through the Feldenkrais method® for humanising health care within prison environment. We started with a running pilot project in February 2023 interpreting a running club as a bridge between inside and outside the prison. The project has been very successful and has helped open a new direction of health within the prison. Within this frame, in agreement with prison management and staff, we are offering a new programme based on the Feldenkrais method available to prisoners in HMPG: weekly Feldenkrais® classes followed by group sharing and conversation, engaging prisoners in a person-centred approach to enable them self-manage their health and wellbeing within prison and prepare for community re-integration. Feldenkrais ® is a somatic educational method of “awareness through movement®” created by Moshè Feldenkrais. It aids rehabilitation for people dealing with injury and illness, depression, anxiety, mental health and facilitates a shift to a more healthful/salutogenic orientation in life.

The new programme starts in May 2024 and is offered by Runforever in close collaboration with HMPG Recovery, Health & Well-Being Strategy Group. Sessions are led by Paolo MaccagnoUK Guild Certified Feldenkrais teacher with the contribution by Stephanie Morrison – Occupational therapist/lecturer in public health and health promotion at RGU.

 

Read more details about the project here 

 

8th May 2024

Rungarioch at HMPG

On Wednesday 8th May 2024, prisoners from Runforever running club participated in the Rungarioch inside HMPG. Thanks to Audra Booth (Community Sport Hub Officer), 19 runners have been officially registered to the race, received a T-shirt and bib number and could run the race inside the prison. The event involved around 10 prison staff who helped organizing it, made it possible to open the gates of the football pitch and allow runners to run along the walls. This time we also had music playing for the duration of the run thanks to Health & Wellbeing Officer Fiona Irwin.

After the Santa 10k, we prepared for a new challenge. The Rungarioch offered different distances and runners took this opportunity. From our perspective it has been positive to notice that everyone chose to run longer rather than faster. Runners who did a 5k now decided to run a 10k and who did a 10k participated in the half marathon. In just one year they moved from doing a few laps in the football pitch to be able to run a full half marathon.

Choosing to run longer distances rather than trying to be faster is a significant shift of mindset. You are not so much beating others or yourself to do better times but you start feeling the pleasure of running and be nurtured by it. Runforever suggests running to be not just fitness and competition but a path towards health together with others.

As our friend Uche Osondu said in one of the Runningstories episodes, what Runforever does “is more than running although it’s just running”.

 

Listen to the full Runningstories episode with Uche here 

 

1st May 2024

“Inspiring Change”

Scottish Public Health Conference

University of Strathclyde – Glasgow

https://scotphconf.org/

Runforever participated to the “Inspiring Change” Scottish Public Health Conference with Paolo Maccagno and Stephanie Morrison who presented a paper about the activity at HMPG: Marathon running in prison suggests new paths for humanising prison care/health care – https://scotphconf.org/agenda/

Given the title of the conference, we felt appropriate to participate to the event in exploring new paths towards health. Thanks to our collaboration with HMPG in particular with the HMPG Recovery, Health & Well-Being Strategy Group, our sense is that we are inspiring change! 

This is highlighted in the abstract we presented:

“Runforever proposes engaging in marathon running can be an educational path for improved health and well-being in the prison setting. In February 2023, in collaboration with HMP Grampian, we started a running club as a bridge welcoming at the same time runners from inside and outside the prison to address underlying health inequalities, inequities and stigmatisation which affect the prisoner population in Scotland prison.

By suggesting a different idea of education (educere – leading out. Ingold 2018, Masschelein 2010) in prison setting and beyond, Runforever offers a new perspective on rehabilitation and a new way to engage with prisoners/people and humanise prison care/health care. Runners are empowered on paths of awareness, attention and listening, enabling them to develop improved health, self-care, self-management and health life choices…”

Read the all abstract and more about the conference here

 

January 2024

Runforever Programme 2024

Mentoring prisoners towards health

After one year of work, we feel that a collaboration at a deeper level has been established with HMP Grampian. We are now stepping into another phase of the project which more directly aims at being integrated with the new corporate plan of the prison towards a wider understanding of health which includes its social determinants (social inequalities/inequities and adverse childhood experiences) as suggested by the HMP Recovery, Health & Well-Being Strategy Group. This approach is coherent with Runforever’s philosophy offering educational and mentoring opportunities for prisoners to develop self-awareness through marathon running and Feldenkrais, helping them in their path towards health and recovery. Runforever’s programme for 2024 continues in this direction of travel which aims at humanising prison care/health care.

 

Read more about the Programme for 2024 here

 

13th December 2023

Santa 10k Run

On Wednesday 13th December,  Runforever organized a Santa 10k run at HMP Grampian.

 

We started like this, listening to Mary Oliver reading her poem Wild Geese. We were in a room of the Links Centre (education department) of the prison, around 25 runners, 10 prison staff and a few great friends and guests. Mary's words created a space for a different understanding of the race (and of life). “You do not have to be good” is the first line of the poem which could sound odd to the ears of someone waiting to listen more usual motivational words to prepare for competition.

Mary’s words moved many of us, probably everyone. 

 

Among others, Scottish National Champion and Athletics Trust Scotland manager Kyle Greig  ran with us bringing Santa hats for everyone. Prisoners of different bubbles mixed after a long time. The gates to the football pitch of our weekly runs have opened to allow for a longer route and more space ahead to enjoy. No words can describe what it was like. The ripple effect of what we did was felt throughout the prison.

Hopefully well beyond!

 

Listen to Runnningstories #9 about the Santa 10k run with special guest Kyle Greig

Read more about the Santa 10k Run

 

27th September 2023

Festival “Towards a sustainable healthy prison”

 

Runforever organised a festival event on the 27th of September 2023 to celebrate the first eight months of the running club at HMP Grampian and open conversation “Towards a sustainable healthy prison”. The event included a 5k run followed by a party held at the Media Unit of the prison where runners, invited guests (from RGU), members of prison staff and of organisations helping with the project (IFF, Shmu, Familiesoutside) gathered for sharing about the running club and participate to the photovoice exhibition.

So far around 70 prisoners have been involved, along with 10 prison staff, 3 partner organisations (IFF, Shmu, Familiesoutside), Fife College and RGU – Robert Gordon University. Runforever delivered 68 running sessions from February to September 2023, and organised several fun runs and 5K races both inside and outside the prison improving the lives of all runners.

We aimed at combining conventional forms of evaluation with other ways of valuing the process from the inside. Inspired by the notion of warm data by Nora Bateson, Runningstories and Photovoice are ways for inventing value in the learning and setting up a path into an unknown territory where values emerge on the way and are co-shaped by organisations, institutions and people.

 

Read more about the festival and results from the first months of the Running club

Listen to Runnningstories #7 about the Festival

 

September 2023

Photovoice in collaboration with Stephanie Morrison (IFF and RGU – Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen)

The blue infinite

Hands fingering to the sky

Keep surrendering

 

Runforever started a collaboration with Stephanie Morrison (RGU and IFF) offering the photovoice method (previously used in Aberdeen prison 2015) for capturing runners’ experience of the running club through photos and words. Runners were asked to take photos during the running sessions at Grampian and then reflect and comment on the ones that they found meaningful. Some wrote short texts or short poems in the form of haikus. The process triggered conversations among runners and offered insights about health and wellbeing.

Photos and narratives have been Exhibited on a story board on the September 27th event at HMP Grampian for the festival “Towards a sustainable healthy prison”.

The photovoice has been a very positive experience for showing the importance of other ways of valuing the process beyond data gathering. Together with the radio show – Runningstories, this is a way of highlighting warm data (Nora Bateson). The project resists conventional forms of evaluation and instead aims at co-creating new forms of value from the inside.

Photovoice continues in the next months!

 

Read more

Listen to Runnningstories #7 about the Photovoice

 

6 July 2023

Runforever published on Stride, Jogscotland magazine

Press Editor Sue Guyford writes: “There are few things more physically limiting – by design – than being in prison. Jog Leader Paolo Maccagno (p16) decided to use the lessons he learned from running marathons and hitting “the wall”, to help prisoners at HMP & YOI Grampian deal with the walls around them in a constructive way. Many of the runners in his group have now completed their first 5K and Paolo hopes to have given them a fresh perspective in the process”.

Read more

Read full article on Stride

 

Wednesday 7th June 2023

“Finisher” celebration event at HMP & YOI Grampian

Runforever organised a Finisher event on Wednesday 7th June 2023 to celebrate the first four months of the running club at HMP Grampian. Prisoner-runners have run together in a team for 30 minutes. The running programme proposed for these first months followed NHS couch to 5k and allowed everyone to be able to run for 30 minutes (approximately 5k). The event was conceived to emphasise being “finisher” (as marathon running does) rather than winning the race and promote running as a collective experience of a team. At the end of the run there was a celebration with party and cake shared with runners, members of prison staff and of organisations helping with the project held at the Media Unit of the prison.

 

Wednesday 8th February 2023

Runforever Pilot Project starts at HMP & YOI Grampian

Runforever started a new pilot project in February 2023, supported by initial funding in collaboration with Peterhead prison (HMP & YOI Grampian) and a few charity organizations (IFF-International Futures¸ Shmu- Aberdeen Community Media Charity, Familiesoutside) for a running club that will serve as a bridge between inside and outside the prison. This specific focus addresses the urgent issue of prisoners tending to reoffend when back in the outer world and entering into a vicious loop of social exclusion and separation. The running club welcomes at the same time runners from inside and outside the prison, overcoming risks of stigmatization. It addresses exactly the transition of prisoners in the outer community and issues of health and wellbeing (evidenced as weak in Prison Reports) in the wider society. For strengthening the idea of the bridge, it creates links between outside and inside through a radio show – Runningstories, created in collaboration with Shmu and the Media Unit of the prison giving voice to stories of runners about their running experience and the impact on their health and wellbeing. It also organizes races and fun runs with the prison and outside, providing the opportunity to bring prisoners and families together (in collaboration with Familiesoutiside) and health wellbeing events for promoting a sustainable healthy prison (with HMP & YOI Grampian).

 

Running Walls

What if I run the wall of the marathoner
inside the walls of the prison?

Projects

Runningstories

Runners have amazing stories to tell.
Those stories are healing stories
and stories that help

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Quick News and Future steps

We have just received the good news of a grant from The Allen Lane Foundation. Thank you!

We have just received the good news of a grant from Athletics Trust Scotland Transforming Lives Fund Thank you!

Read news here

In collaboration with Stephanie Morrison (RGU University and IFF) we continue the experience of the “Photo voice” method capturing what runners like about their experience of the running club through photos and words.

Introductory course for becoming jog leaders on the basis of the Jog leader training course by Paolo Maccagno (certified Jog Scotland leader) in collaboration with Lorraine Reid Fife college.
The course will serve for prisoners to learn the skills for mentoring other runners within the prison and as preparation for the UKA coach license which could be taken by ex-offenders after their release.
This will enrich the skills of ex offenders when back in the community and would hopefully create new paid and voluntary roles in the community through sport.

Series of workshops looking at the impact of the project on society and its potentiality for systemic change. The idea is to offer the experience of the Running club – HMP Grampian as a case study for opening debate beyond the prison environment, to education and health.
What the educational experience of the wall of the marathon which fosters the capacity of running forever and abandoning the need of reaching the finish line, inspire to prison education, health and wellbeing?