News - 25th August 2023

parkrun takes me away to another place

Screenshot 2023-08-16 at 13.03.18

Warren Hill parkrun started in November 2018 as part of the initiative to bring parkrun to custodial estates. Now in their fifth year, they are on their 159th event with over 6,100 finishers. They explain how parkrun has helped prisoners and enables them to celebrate their partnerships with local organisations.


Typically, Warren Hill parkrun has 40 to 60 participants every week. The event is run by our onsite Physical Education Instructors (PTI) and volunteers from both prison staff and the prisoners.


In addition to the weekly 5k parkrun on Saturday mornings, we hold various ad hoc running events including half marathons and 10k races over the summer.


We have also taken the opportunity to use parkrun events to celebrate a particular cause or partnership with local organisations. Some of these have included an LGBT Pride parkrun and a Christmas parkrun, all of which have been supported and run by both staff and prisoners.




Another special parkrun we held in March was for the Samaritans. We raised awareness of The Listener scheme and celebrated its impact on the prison community. Listeners are prisoners who provide confidential emotional support to their peers who are struggling to cope or feeling suicidal.


The prisoners who are Samaritan Listeners wore green running tops and were joined by several Samaritan volunteers who are part of the local Ipswich branch and run the Listener scheme at Warren Hill.




Fiona, a regular parkrunner and Samaritan volunteer who helps run the Listener scheme said: “I’ve joined participants at Warren Hill parkrun on 25 occasions now and we often chat to the guys about their concerns, hopes and plans whilst we parkrun together. It’s inspiring to see the support everyone gives each other during the parkrun!”


parkrun is very popular at HMP Warren Hill and benefits prisoners in terms of their physical and mental health. Participants are regularly seen encouraging fellow parkrunners around the course and they often motivate each other to improve and beat their own personal bests.


Governor Dave Nicholson said: “Warren Hill prides itself on following principles of normality with the community outside the prison fence. This is so we prepare our prisoners to safely integrate back into society once granted release. parkrun gives our men a sense of purpose as well as improving their physical and mental health. It also provides the opportunity for everyone to take part either running, walking, or volunteering. It has even been known for me to take part on the odd occasion.”


Steve, a Warren Hill PTI said: “Since we started parkrun at Warren Hill, everybody has gained from the experience. It enables participants to take part in an activity at the same time as family, friends and everybody else outside. Our cohort of regular parkrunners also continue on the outside, which is great to see. Although there is a healthy competitive aspect involved, we have a friendly environment where anybody can come out to walk, run, or volunteer. We’ve had attendance up to 144, which for a small prison is fantastic.”




Participant S, a member of the 100 milestone club said: “It’s given me a purpose and I enjoy assisting all the guys involved with taking part. I get a lot of satisfaction from it.”


Participant M also said: “When I first started parkrun, I used to walk the course and worked my way up to running the 5k. I’m grateful for the encouragement from fellow participants, PTIs and volunteers. Not only do I feel better for having completed the course but I feel like parkrun takes me away to another place and I don’t feel like I’m in prison when running. It’s now something to look forward to on a Saturday morning.”


Participation at custodial parkrun events is via authorised invitation only. Please refrain from contacting any custodial parkrun event teams directly.


Warren Hill parkrun



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