Find a Guide scheme relaunched

More visually impaired people to get the chance to take up running

England Athletics and British Blind Sport today relaunched ‘Find a Guide’, a national guide runner database to support more people with a visual impairment to run.

The database is an online tool for anyone aged 18 or older with a visual impairment to find a guide runner, whether they have never run before, are a gym-goer looking to take their running outdoors or a seasoned runner looking for a new guide.

Launched in 2016, Find a Guide has been helping visually impaired people find guide runners across England to support them to run for nearly two years now. In this time we’ve trained more than 1110 people on our Sight Loss Awareness and Guide Running workshop and licensed over 720 guide runners.

 The scheme has already created more than 720 guide runners

The scheme has already created more than 720 guide runners

The database has enabled visually impaired people to find a guide runner and go for a run on their own, join a club or RunTogether group or take part in an event or race. The relaunch of Find a Guide has seen improvements to the database to make it even easier for visually impaired people to search for and contact a guide runner to support them to run and is part of a national drive by England Athletics and British Blind Sport to support more visually impaired people to get active through running.

The simple search function within the database allows users to search for a guide runner in their local area. All guide runners on the database are licensed, which means they are DBS-checked and have attended an England Athletics ‘Sight Loss Awareness and Guide Running’ workshop.

Over the next 12 months England Athletics and British Blind Sport are working with various partners and running clubs and groups across England to find and train more guide runners so that there are guides in all areas of the country. There are 15 workshops planned across England in 2018 so if you’re interested in becoming a guide runner visit www.englandathletics.org/guide-workshop to find out more.

The need for the database has been highlighted by Sport England’s Active People Survey 2016, which shows that only 10.4% of adults with a visual impairment take part sport once a week, compared to 36.1% of non-disabled adults. England Athletics and British Blind Sport hope that Find a Guide will encourage more visually impaired adults to access the support they need to take up running or enjoy more frequent runs.

Nick Thorley is a visually impaired runner from Nottingham who runs with an England Athletics licenced guide. He said: "Running has become a massive part of my life. It gives me a focus, makes me feel healthier, has increased my confidence and provides a real sense of achievement. It’s the generosity and commitment of guide runners that makes all this possible. Strangely, I find running with someone gives me more of a sense of freedom and independence than anything else I’ve done."

Wendy Lawson is from Redhill Road Runners in Nottingham and is a guide runner for a visually impaired runner called Iris: "I find being a guide so rewarding as any events that I undertake with Iris are about helping her to succeed. I love the bond that Iris and I have, we always fall into step with each other. She is a great friend and not just someone who I guide.  I love the feeling that I can 'give something back' to a sport that I came into in my 40s. Members of my own club gave up their own running time to bring my running on. I like to think that I'm giving it back via my Run Leader licence and guide running with Iris."

British Blind Sport, the national charity committed to enhancing the provision of sport and physical activity for blind and partially sighted people, is delighted to work in partnership with England Athletics to develop the Find a Guide database. Alaina MacGregor, chief executive at British Blind Sport, said: "The Find a Guide database is the product of an excellent project between British Blind Sport and England Athletics. We hope that the database will allow more visually impaired people to enjoy running, safe in the knowledge that they can connect with a guide runner who is trained, vetted and passionate about running."

Liz Purbrick, inclusion manager at England Athletics added: "Find a Guide has been helping visually impaired people find guide runners to support them to run for nearly two years now. We’ve listened to feedback from both guides and runners and are really pleased to relaunch the new-look Find a Guide to help even more visually impaired people to run. Whether they are new to running, want to get back into running or already run the database can help them connect with licensed guide runners to support them."

Running is one of the most accessible and low-cost ways to be active and meet government recommendations to be moderately active for at least 150 minutes per week. Whether it’s to get fit, improve health, make friends or take on a challenge, running has something to offer everyone.