Ruchill in northern Glasgow has traditionally been classified as having a high degree of deprivation. It has no library, gym, health centre, reliable bus service or pharmacy. But what it does have is a beautiful park and a strong sense of community, two ingredients that have combined to create a flourishing parkrun.
Ruchill parkrun Event Director Lynsey Parker, who was born and bred in the area, tells us more.
Our event is in northern Glasgow and takes place in Ruchill Park (pronounced “Ruch Hill”) which opened in 1892. The park’s best known feature is the panoramic view of Glasgow from the top of the hill, which has an artificial mound on top that was made from spoil when they built Ruchill Hospital. There are some social and health inequalities within the community, and Ruchill is often classed as a deprived area, yet despite this Ruchill has always had a sense of community spirit.
Ruchill Park is a lovely open space, especially at the top when you look to the right and get a lovely view of Glasgow, but it is not used as often as it should be by local people. I played in the park when I was little, I take my children there and it’s where I walk our dog. I had mentioned to my husband one day that I would love to start a parkrun in Ruchill but it was one of those things you say that you never think of becoming a reality or where I would start.
In summer 2016, I took my three-year-old son to a community litter pick and met Alistair Mitchell, a community development worker who asked if there was anything I would like to see in the community. I told him of my idea to establish a parkrun and he set up a meeting with local community links including local housing provider, Maryhill Housing, which later agreed to fund the event.
The proposal was that this lasting community legacy would encourage the community to take up a new hobby whilst improving their health and wellbeing. Alistair continued to support me. I was pregnant throughout most of the event activation process and my baby was ten weeks old when we held our inaugural run in April 2017.
I think the power of parkrun can be demonstrated when I say that Alistair became a Run Director as part of the core team.
Before the inaugural run we had one of our parkrunners, a local fireman, tutor us in CPR and defibrillator training. This reflects the uncomplicated and simplistic way that parkrun continues to run, with the community supporting each other.
As part of our core volunteer team I have my brother, sister-in-law, husband, mother and one of my sons supporting us. I also had my manager and my GP come along for support, and my GP was particularly pleased to hear that parkun was starting in the local area as this is of great benefit to the health of the community.
Ruchill parkrun has brought great satisfaction for me because people are enjoying the event, life is being breathed into the park again, and a new community is growing.
On Strava and within the Glasgow parkrun community we are famous as our course is shaped like a whale. This was not intentional but it is now known as the Ruchill Whale and we encourage people to come along and have a go of the Ruchill Whale. From parkrun discussions on social media I do believe we are the only parkrun with a special Strava route!
After parkrun we meet at the Ruchill Golf Course, which has great facilities but is traditionally underused.
We have had some great stories come out of our parkrun in a short time. For example, a 16-year-old named Finn who had never run parkrun before we started. He knew of parkrun as his Aunt ran at Pollok parkrun. Unfortunately due to the distance he was unable to travel to Pollok.
Finn has ran most of our runs since we started. He went on holiday with his parents in the summer and continued his parkrunning in Aviemore. He is part of our core team and wishes to be a Run Director in the near future. Finn loves being part of the parkrun community and this inspired him to run the Glasgow 10k race this year.
Despite living in Ruchill all my life I have met so many new people in the community through parkrun. There are a lot of local people who still do not know about our parkrun, so we hope to increasingly promote it locally in the future.
If you’d like to find out more about bringing parkrun to your community, click here.
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