First ever NHS Parkrun takes place in Bethlem grounds

More than 200 people took part in the first Parkrun at Bethlem Royal Hospital on Saturday 25 May. Kick-started by a team of SLaM staff in collaboration with Parkrun volunteers, it was first Parkrun in the country to take place on NHS grounds. Parkrun organise free, weekly 5km timed runs around the world which are open to everyone and easy to take part in. This project has been made possible through hospital staff and Parkrun volunteers giving up their time, and it’s been financially backed by a number of organisations including the Maudsley Charity, and the London Boroughs of Bromley and Croydon.

Supporting people to move more as part of achieving the ambitions set out in the Physical Health Strategy (2018-23) is an important way of enhancing overall mental health and wellbeing. Public Health England recommends that adults should aim to take part in at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity each week; Parkrun provides one such opportunity.

The route, which is all within the hospital grounds, provides a great way to explore the site, and importantly open it up to the local community. “There’s so much potential to engage with our local community and continue to breakdown stigma around mental health” explains Mary Yates, Nurse Consultant for Health Promotion and Wellbeing. “The whole idea about Parkrun is that everyone is welcome and there is no barrier to participation and no hierarchy. Individuals can run or walk around the course – they can use any name they wish as part of the registration process”.

“We have a rota for volunteers and we have been able to open the Bethlem Community Centre café after Parkrun, so that participants can relax, enjoy refreshments and chat afterwards. As parents sat having a chat at the benches, young children played on the new outdoor gym equipment after the run. We’re also planning to encourage people to visit the Bethlem Gallery and Museum whilst they are on site”.

Bethlem Parkrun is at 9am every Saturday. If you’d like to take part visit the Parkrun website. If you would like to join the volunteers, please email bethlemroyalhospitalhelpers@parkrun.com.