His Royal Highness Prince Harry visited The Running Charity and its partner Depaul UK in Willesden, North London on 26 January 2017 as part of his continued focus on exploring how sport can be used to help vulnerable young people and communities.
The Prince went for a 15-minute run with eight young homeless people, who have been training with The Running Charity, the UK’s first running-orientated programme for homeless and vulnerable young people.
He also talked with The Running Charity’s Director, Alex Eagle, and Depaul UK Chief Executive, Martin Houghton-Brown.
Alex said: “The Prince observed that a lot of the young people who use our charities have been let down in the early stages of life and that their success is defined by how they then pick themselves up. That’s what The Running Charity is all about, believing in young people and communities.
Martin said: “His Royal Highness said that young people need to be given the belief and opportunity to succeed and that it was great to see what we are doing here. I am so grateful that these young people have had the opportunity to run with a Prince to help them realise their potential.”
Prince Harry also met Claude Umuhire, a former participant and now full-time employee of The Running Charity, alongside some of the current beneficiaries and graduates, before participating in a running session with the group.
And after running with the group of young people, the Prince told them: “You have all made the decision to go running. Now you are all ambassadors for The Running Charity.”
Leaving them, he joked: “Next time I will come and play pool maybe!”
This is one of a series of visits Prince Harry is undertaking to develop his understanding of the sport for social development sector and use his position to support the great work that is already taking place across the country to ensure that community sports groups continue to play a key role in improving the life chances of disadvantaged young people.
The Running Charity engages young people in regular running-based activities with qualified fitness professionals as coaches, harnessing the underlying benefits as a powerful motivational tool. The Running Charity partners with existing homeless charities, providing a diverse training programme that ensures high levels of engagement between the participants and coaches.
Through sport, The Running Charity is able to encourage young people to set positive goals, to speak and engage with each other in a positive way, develop a healthier lifestyle and establish a positive mindset. The aim throughout the programme is that as their confidence increases, participants become more resilient and optimistic about what they can achieve in life.
The Running Charity works with a range of homeless charities which include Depaul UK, New Horizon Youth Centre, YMCA, Centrepoint, St Mungo’s and Evolve housing, in both London and Manchester.
Depaul started in 1989 in response to the growing number of homeless people on the streets of London. The initial idea emerged from The Passage Day Centre, in Victoria, a project of the Daughters of Charity of St Vincent de Paul.
Now Depaul works with the homeless, vulnerable and disadvantaged in six countries: UK, Ireland, the US, France, Ukraine and Slovakia. In the UK, Depaul focuses on helping 16-to-25-year-olds facing homelessness, offering a safe place to stay in a crisis, helping them to take the step into stable housing, and providing specialist long-term support to help get lives back on track. Depaul has helped more than 63,000 young people in the UK since it started.
Depaul UK runs supported houses in London and the South East, the North West and North East of England, and a nationwide emergency accommodation network, Nightstop.
At Willesden, Depaul provides supported housing, giving young people help with every aspect of their lives, from benefits to school or college work and health and independent living skills. The Depaul runners, who have been taking part in sessions with The Running Charity, are from both the Willesden project and our Creekside Foyer project, in Greenwich
The Willesden property was Depaul’s first house and was opened in 1990 by Princess Diana who subsequently visited the young people living there in a private capacity. She visited again officially in 1994 after the house had been refurbished by Depaul.