Ireland’s Sanctuary Runners will launch first UK group this weekend

Ireland’s Sanctuary Runners will launch first UK group this weekend

A NEW branch of Ireland’s Sanctuary Runners group is set to launch in Brighton this weekend.

The initiative, founded in Cork in 2018, uses running, jogging and walking to bring together asylum seekers, refugees and other migrants with local residents to promote “solidarity-through-sports”.

Founded by former Irish Post sports editor Graham Clifford, the initiative has experienced huge success with 40 groups now in place across Ireland and more than 15,000 participants.

This Saturday, July 6 it will launch its first full UK branch in Brighton, in east Sussex, after hosting a one-off event in west London in 2021.

The group will work with the Brighton Table Tennis Club, which has been using sport to break down barriers between communities in Brighton for many years, according to Clifford, who is the founder and Head of International Development with Sanctuary Runners.

“Brighton, as we know, has such a strong reputation, both in the UK and internationally, as being a leader to welcoming all regardless of ethnicity, legal status, religion, culture or sexual orientation,” he said this week.

“It is a city for all and when we were contacted by Tim Holtam, founding Director of the wonderful Brighton Table Tennis Club, asking if we’d be interested in starting a group here we jumped at the opportunity.”

Ireland's sanctuary runners will launch their first UK-based group in Brighton this weekend

He added: “Our organisation works to bring people together, to celebrate each other as equals in solidarity and help build strong socially cohesive communities.”

Holtam, who is the Founding Director of the Brighton Table Tennis Club, said they have been keen to work with the Irish running group, having followed their progress over the years.

“Community integration through sport is something we feel very passionately about at Brighton Table Tennis Club,” he said.

“We have been following Sanctuary Runners growth in Ireland for the last few years and it is just a beautifully simple and purposeful initiative.

“We can’t wait to build on what has already been started in Brighton, get even more people running and seeing the myriad of benefits that come with that.”

The Sanctuary Runners group in Brighton is now open to all people of all abilities.

“You don’t have to be a top athlete to join,” Clifford says.

“We have people in their eighties in our groups in Ireland, we have Olympians, we have teenagers, we have people with additional physical needs, the entire spectrum.

“If you’re not a runner that’s no problem, we have lots and lots of walkers too as well as people using chairs and walking aids.

“Everyone is welcome and we hope by becoming part of Sanctuary Runners Brighton, people will learn more about others living in their beautiful city and make friendships. So really its less about the running and more about the laughter, the chats and the shared experience.”

The launch of the Sanctuary Runners Brighton group will take place at 8.30am in Preston Park Brighton on Saturday, July 6. Afterwards the group’s members will take part in the Preston Park parkrun which begins at 9am.

For more information email: [email protected].