My wife Charli and I work for Dorset Police. And as you can see by the photo above of our Inspector and Chief Inspector, we’re not the only local police who love parkrun!
To raise awareness of the importance of health and wellbeing within the Police Service. We had so many runners and families dressed up as comedy robbers, and it prompted a record turnout for the event of 286; more than 100 more than the usual numbers we get.
Charli and I started running in 2014 when Blandford parkrun was set up in an effort to get fit and healthy. We were both hooked instantly. We became great friends with so many fellow runners and it transformed our lives completely – something neither of us expected. Wanting to do my bit, I signed up to volunteer and soon became one of the Run Directors.
Both being in the police, finding the time and energy to commit to a healthier lifestyle is no easy thing; especially with so many cakes and junk food available to Officers heading out the door on the way to the next job. But Charli in particular wanted to achieve her ’50′ as soon as possible and hit 50 parkruns within her first year, running her 50th on Blandford’s first birthday.
Being a PCSO first, she managed that just before she became a Constable (knowing that shifts would affect her ability to be there as often) but was determined to give something back and now volunteers/run-directs, runs and works on a three-week rota wherever possible. As we became a bigger and bigger part of the parkrun family, we encouraged and coaxed friends and colleagues into joining in the fun, something that many of them did.
Charli and I ran the London Marathon in April this year for charity and a colleague also ran the North Dorset Village Marathon. Such are the pressures of working in the current Police Service, Dorset Police are very aware of the importance of health and wellbeing in order to keep staff fit and able to do their work.
Seven of the local Blanford-based officers are regular parkrunners, and when they are unable to run due to shifts or other commitments, they are often in attendance in uniform to say hi and engage with the local community. Many parkrunners often jokingly ask “Are you running in that today then?” referring to the full uniform, which gave us an idea…
Being able to get all our shifts together can be a nightmare, but having tossed the idea around the station a little, we thought running in full police gear would be a different way to engage with the community. So at 9am on Saturday, eight of the local Constabulary of varying rank lined up with Blandford parkrunners on the start line of a fancy dress ‘Cops and Robbers’ themed run. We ran in full uniform whilst ‘chasing’ plenty of suspicious characters in stripy outfits, masks and swag bags!
It was an excellent opportunity to not only engage with a different group within the community, but also raise awareness of the importance of health and wellbeing within the Police Service. We had so many runners and families dressed up as comedy robbers, and it prompted a record turnout for the event of 286; more than 100 more than the usual numbers we get.
To be able to give people an idea of what it is like to not only carry, but also run in full uniform, was an eye-opener for many. Officers came in on rest days and we sorted out shifts with our force duties department. With a bit of organisation, and some great support and willingness from the team, we arranged the event with the Event Director and District Council to gain access to the course for our vehicles, as well as advertising it a couple of weeks in advance on the Blandford parkrun Facebook page, our own local Police Facebook pages and in the local press.
We then followed this up by providing training after the event for 14 parkrun volunteers on the use of their new defibrillator with the Dorset Police First Aid Training Department. This provided them with what to do in the event of assisting someone in cardiac arrest and basic life support. Some of our volunteers have had first aid training before, but commented that this was by far the best. It was realistic, to the point and left people feeling they would actually know how to make a difference if faced with that worst-case scenario.
We have held several fancy dress runs at Blandford and always get a really positive uptake. It helps that plenty of us also belong to a local running group ‘runblandford’ – a beginners and improvers group (rather than club) who are much more about the social aspects of running, rather than times and races. No-one gets left behind and the most important person is the one at the back so we find ways for the quicker runners to cover more ground without putting any pressure on others to ‘keep up’. It is a wonderful family of people who are intertwined with parkrun and the local Police.
My advice for parkrunners wanting to engage with their local Police would be to contact them on 101 (National Non-Emergency Telephone number) and speak to them. Police Services across the country are all contactable in so many ways now: Phone, web page, email, social media, messaging services… we are always looking for ways to connect with our communities so just send us a message for your local Neighbourhood Policing Team (NPT) to get in touch.
Other Officers looking to do something similar should easily be able to do it with a bit of teamwork. Contacting your local parkrun should be the first point of call and of course, all parkrun events have their own email addresses on their homepage.
Having the fancy dress element really helped in our case as it got everyone into the spirit of the event and allowed easy engagement and a bit of fun to break down any barriers. We had the typical tea/coffee at the end, which encouraged parkrunners to come and chat and provided an opportunity to ask questions or raise concerns.
It was a wonderful event with loads of positive feedback and support. We even got a cheer from the crowd at the pre-run briefing, which does wonders to lift the spirits and know what we do is appreciated.
Also in attendance were:
Charli Goddard (Police Constable) A1092788
James Dimmack (Police Sergeant) A3499466
Rob Hammond (Police Constable) A142846
Gavin Newbury (Police Constable) A568300
Dave Mullins (Police Constable) A1137383
Danny Thompson (Inspector) A2888205
Rob Chalkley (Chief Inspector) A1296126
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