Tuesday, 16 April 2019

Running to Beat Suicide


“Jacky Youldon’s running group helps suicide survivors and their friends and families find their feet again.” (Sam Murphy, Runner’s World, June 2019)

RunningSpace began in 2016 with me volunteering to teach a group of six non runners how to run. In the three years since, we’ve trained over two hundred people, eighty percent of whom were completely new to running.

Many participants have been affected by suicide, including me – either attempting to take their own lives or having lost family or friends to suicide. Other attendees live with mental health conditions, from anxiety and depression to schizophrenia and autism.

We have trained over a hundred people in safeTALK, a World Health Organisation (WHO) ratified suicide prevention training programme. We are now looking ahead to the next steps in order to fulfil our mission.
Mission Statement
Our passion and calling are to see every life lived in all its fullness and not one be lost to suicide.
How will we achieve this?
  • By educating and training communities to become able, appropriate and available to those suffering with thoughts of suicide.
  • By pioneering a worldwide movement of runners who will run, pray, and raise awareness for those affected by suicide.
  • By working with communities to build prevention and recovery programmes which include Walk2Run groups, building relationship connections, developing links with clinicians, facilitating volunteering, and job creation for example.

We believe that “every person we run with has treasure and riches within them, often buried deep under hurt and pain of abuse, abandonment, and rejection. Our purpose is to run shoulder to shoulder with you, and in running to help shake the dirt off each other’s lives and pull out the treasure.”

The WHO estimates that each year approximately 800,000 people die from suicide. This means that someone dies by suicide almost every forty seconds. For every suicide there are an estimated twenty attempts: every two seconds someone in the world is trying to kill themselves.

RunningSpace currently delivers five Walk2Run groups per week across Bexhill and Hastings, we have trained up three new coaches from within our own ranks, with a further six are about to begin their own coaching journey. Of those nine, at least six are survivors of suicide. Sessions are completely free including refreshments. Many people struggling with suicide and mental health are also struggling financially.

Almost since inception, we have been based at The Pelham charity in Bexhill with whom we share the same vision, to see people restored. The Pelham is a Christian endeavour, recognised for its contribution towards all aspects of health and wellbeing. RunningSpace has recently been adopted as a partnership project of the charity, a mutually supportive relationship that enables us to offer connection, volunteering and other training opportunities, as well as a shared infrastructure and support through the CEO and The Pelham Trustees.

We are based in Bexhill, but of course suicide happens everywhere. We have received requests to help people set up their own Walk2Run groups to beat suicide in other areas of Sussex and the South of England. We plan to
  • Follow a social franchising model to enable us to expand without growing an organisation the traditional way that creates a distance from the ‘frontline’. Through building RunningSpace as a social franchise, we can benefit from the existing local expertise, experience and knowledge in other locations whilst spreading our message widely and consistently.
  • Develop a training and mentoring programme to provide progression pathways for participants whilst at the same time increasing capacity.
  • Produce resources and materials to support the delivery of Walk2Run groups ‘where you are’, following the proven and pioneering successful tools, skills and ethos we’ve worked hard on for the last three years.
  • Begin the working out of the vison of the intercessory element of RunningSpace. We will develop our WhatsApp group of people who pray for those affected by suicide. We also want to deliver the first stages of a new project, Running in the Gap, to offer prayers, raise awareness or provide support for those affected by suicide.
  • Build on our trusted status we have in Rother to grow our connections with clinicians and other suicide support agencies.T
  • he Walk2Run groups are currently funded by Optivo, a local housing association, and the Heart of Sidley, a Big Lottery fund recipient until July 2019.


You can support the ministry by visiting our website RunningSpace.org and clicking on the Give.Net button, or this link will take you straight there. 

Many many thanks for your support in advance, 

Jacky and the team

Come and run with us, it might just change your life...