Charity of the Week

parkrun volunteers at Christmas

Valuing your presence over presents at Christmas

Reasons to be cheerful and volunteering – one to ten!

This is the time of year for giving. And one of the greatest gifts we can give is our free time. The Cambridge Dictionary defines 'free time' as the time when you do not have to work, study, etc., and can do what you want. What better way for us runners to spend some of our free time than by volunteering to help others enjoy our wonderful sport?

It may be that you are a little nervous or feel unqualified to help out. Have no fear, parkrun is here, there, and everywhere! And parkruns simply could not exist without their volunteers. Our news writer, Alan Newman, is a serial volunteer at parkruns but has recently got out of the habit after notching up 108 appearances in the hi-vis, compared with 133 in running gear.

On the last weekend in November, there were 1,788 parkruns worldwide (plus 368 junior parkruns) with 221,723 parkrunners, who were supported by 35,356 hi-vis heroes. The stats for the UK read 744 5K parkruns; 121,139 parkrunners, and 16,692 volunteers.

All this shows you are never alone as a parkrun volunteer. And your presence is valued over any presents at Christmas, although cakes and mince pies are positively encouraged! Our friends at parkrun UK have just released an excellent blog, with eight reasons to encourage even the most nervous to give volunteering a go – click here to be motivated.

Alan offers two more reasons to be cheerful while spending nothing more than some of your free time. Runners of any standard who are injured can keep in touch with friends and keep mobile and active by supporting their local club race or parkrun. One occasion when Alan did exactly that was, ironically, at the parkrun dedicated to the 70th anniversary of the NHS, as you can read here!

Another reason is to do it for the rewards. We are all familiar with the phrase: "Been there, done that, got the T-shirt". And we see the parkrunner's T-shirts in action every Saturday morning – colour-coded to indicate how far up the milestones ladder each parkrunner has climbed. Did you know there are now similar parkrun volunteer milestone T-shirts available? These start at purple for volunteering 25 times and go right up to royal blue for 500 efforts. They are all available in the parkrun shop here.

However, the ultimate reward is to see all the smiling faces and hear the breathless 'thank you' gasps from friends you either know or haven't met yet, apart from that fleeting moment when their effort and your presence combine to make parkrun happen safely.

See you on Saturday?

Image courtesy parkrun Support UK

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