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Nissan and The Richard Whitehead Foundation announce the Supported Runner Project at AJ Bell Great North Run 2023

  • Study by OnePoll reveals four in 10 people with disabilities don’t feel confident enough to participate in sporting events
  • Nissan GB has partnered with The Richard Whitehead Foundation to increase accessibility for runners with physical or neurodiverse disabilities by piloting the Supported Runner Project at the Great North Run.

Friday 8 September – Nissan GB and its charity partner The Richard Whitehead Foundation is proud to launch the first phase of the new Supported Runner Project as part of the ongoing Nissan Possibilities Project sustainability initiative.

The Supported Runner Project aims to make running events more inclusive by providing direct help to disabled runners in the form of support runners. These volunteers will accompany disabled participants before, during and after running events, helping to remove some of the challenges and barriers they may encounter.

The Possibilities Project aims to increase participation opportunities for all, particularly the 16 million people in the UK with a disability*.

The announcement of the Supported Runner Project comes as a recent study by OnePoll revealed that four in 10 people with disabilities don’t feel confident enough to participate in sporting events. The study of 700 people with disabilities found that 56 percent of those asked felt they wouldn’t be seen as a priority when it came to participating in such events, and more than half believe access to trained volunteers would give them the confidence necessary to take part.

As Official Partner of the Great Run Series, Nissan will pilot the Supported Runner Project at this year’s AJ Bell Great North Run, which will take place on Sunday, and the AJ Bell Great South Run on 15th October 2023. The project will work within the operations already in place at the event to increase the provision for runners with disabilities.

The Richard Whitehead Foundation, supported by Nissan, will provide comprehensive training to the volunteers, so that they are able to offer support appropriate to the needs of the runner they are matched with.

Gold-medal winning Paralympian, marathon runner and Nissan GB’s Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Ambassador Richard Whitehead said: “Growing up and throughout my career I’ve witnessed first-hand the challenges that disabled people face in order to take part in sporting events, so I’m delighted to work with Nissan GB to help remove some of these barriers. Sport should be accessible to everyone, so it’s exciting that we can pilot the Supported Runner Project at the Great North Run this weekend and the Great South Run in October, ahead of our full launch in 2024.”

Runners who are interested in volunteering as a Support Runner for events in 2024 can contact charity@whitehead.foundation or visit the Supported Runner Project website.

* Estimate from Department for Work and Pensions’ Family Resources Survey, 2021/22 financial year.  

By admin