“You don’t need permission to make a difference.” I love this phrase, adopted by grassroots charity Help Refugees. I love its honesty. I love its rawness. I love the hope and truth that radiates out of these eight simple words.
I love the optimism that springs from the realisation you don’t need to wait for the government or a big corporation to take action on a matter (although it would be helpful if they did). Each and every one of us is capable of making a difference, if we really want to.
It’s hard not to feel numb, helpless and small in light of recent events. From large-scale humanitarian crises in places such as Syria, Yemen and the refugee camps across Europe, to the terrorist attacks in London and Manchester, and the tragedy of the Grenfell Tower re. The weight of such misery can weigh heavy.
And yet. There are glimmers through the darkness. There are the charities – such as Help Refugees, UNHCR, War Child and the Red Cross – working tirelessly to get much-needed aid and support to those in need.
There are the helpers – who we must all focus on each and every time an atrocity occurs – from the emergency services to the ordinary bystanders, who pull us through.
There are the communities. Communities who respond to disasters with open arms, and donations, and other incredible fundraising efforts.
As runners, we are so very fortunate to be a part of a wide and welcoming community: the running community. Collectively we are a generous bunch. Just look at the compassion and camaraderie seen at races across the country. Look at the support offered by running clubs and groups. Look at the fundraising efforts of so many. Look at the positivity and inclusivity of all who don their running shoes each week and get out there.
I am a runner, like you. I know sometimes it’s a slog. I know the hills hurt. I know in the summer heat, when you’re hot and uncomfortable, and visions of ice-cold G&Ts float in front of your eyes like a mirage, it’s not uncommon to mutter, “F*ck this” under your breath while you’re plodding out a painful 10K.
BUT. We don’t give up. We are resilient. And I know (I bet you do, too) the support of others is the biggest boost in the world (I recently took part in a hilly trail 10K and the unwavering support from the marshals kept a smile on my face the whole way).
A smile. A cheer. A friendly word. It all lights up someone else’s world. It all makes a difference.
That is why I have decided to launch the Keep Running Mummy (KRM) running group! I have no experience of leading a group, but after being asked by some of the pre-school mums whether I’d consider it, I figured, why not? I’m so excited to be launching this new venture that will promote exercise and inclusivity, one that will help local mums come together and gain the confidence to try something new. One hundred per cent of the profits (voluntary donations from the group) will go to a local charity, Bromley Brighter Beginnings, which supports families in dire financial need and mothers who, having escaped domestic violence, are now living in refuge. Because the wider community matters. We all matter.
(If you want to learn more, you can like my Facebook page, Keep Running Mummy, for news and updates.)
In the current global climate, when it would be so easy to feel pessimistic, remember, you are positive, powerful and influential. You don’t need permission to lend a hand, cheer someone on or smile at a stranger.
You don’t need permission to make a difference.