Keep our Parkrun – Letters of support

Dear Sir/Madam,

I have been made aware that Stoke Gifford Parish Council are considering closing down Little Stoke Park Run on the 9th of February over charging for use of the park. 
 
I would like to offer my comments in support of our local Park Run initiative, both as a UK taxpayer (who is impacted by any additional burden to health services as a result of our growing obesity issues) and as a concerned parent ( who finds it increasingly difficult to find ways to motivate my children to be more active and healthy in this digital age of more sedentary activity/work).
 
ParkRun is a free, (yes – no money required!) volunteer run, (volunteers don’t get paid they do it for free – turns out best things in life are actually free! read Steve Jobs if you don’t believe me) fabulous way, of encouraging people of all abilities to come together as a community (it really is a supportive family experience) to exercise.
 
It has long been known that promoting healthy lifestyles and wellbeing saves the health service (and council services) millions of pounds in preventing obesity related health issues. (Plethora of scientific support backed by government already know this to be true.) 
In addition to the value to our adult community, without ParkRun, the Junior ParkRun held on sunday at Little stoke park would be almost certainly put in jeopardy as it is largely supported by volunteers from the 5K adult Parkrun community….. relegating the youth of the community to sunday mornings in front of the tv and another tidal wave of future health issues for the council and tax payers to support.
As a parent….
I have a 7 year old and 4 year old who do jnr parkrun on a regular basis, come rain or shine (and it has really rained recently!) and it teaches them far more than just getting fit. They learning about grit, determination, self worth, self belief, the value of hard work, supporting others, and one of the happy side effects, the value of volunteering (as they can also volunteer to be a marshal instead of running); an experience that is an invaluable counterbalance to the ‘nothing in life is free’ mentality that pervades our community. 
ParkRun is more than just running…. it is a support community and a role model for prosocial behaviour.
Parkrun is a way of dissolving systemic wellbeing problems that we face today and in the future and tackling council spiralling costs, in that way it already contributes ‘value’ and has been saving the council money since it started – (for free!). 
 
Little Stoke council please take a look at the wider contextual view and reconsider your support for this hugely popular, free, self motivated, community led contribution to our local people’s health and wellbeing.
 
Please help us keep Little Stoke Park Run viable – as it benefits us all as a society.
 
Kind Regards

Sam Williams
 
 
Ps. I have taken the trouble to find other examples of councils exploring charging for park run and the response from the community. 
Similar attempts to charge for ParkRun across the UK have been subject to high level media and political interest – see Wandsworth council appeal  Parkrun is to come to Wandsworth! and comments from local london MP’s and Cllrs below echo the exact sentiment of our cause here at little stoke park run.
 
Sadiq Khan MP said: 
“Here in Wandsworth we all count ourselves very lucky to be surrounded by so many green spaces, and we want to be able to make the most of them. Yet the council is preventing local runners from enjoying our parks and is saying no to ParkRun.
“Parkrun would not cause the council to incur any extra cost. It does however help bring communities together, encourage new people to try running and has obvious health benefits. So why is the council refusing to support it?
“ParkRuns are happening all over London – and Wandsworth residents – including me – are missing out. The Council needs to wake up and listen to local residents when they say they want to bring ParkRun to Wandsworth.”
Cllr Ben Johnson, campaign supporter, said:
“Every week across London, runners both experienced and new have the chance to get together, free of charge, for an organised and friendly race. The health and social benefits of parkrun are clear – and can actually help reduce the cost of healthcare in the long term. Yet Wandsworth Tories, true to form, know the price of everything but the value of nothing. They should be getting behind volunteer-led schemes like this which only do good for the community, instead of looking for ways to raise revenue from them.”
Paul-with-MomentumFeature photo shows Parkrun Founder Paul Sinton-Hewitt with the ‘Momentum’ running man sculpture unveiled at Little Stoke Park to celebrate the first anniversary of the Parkrun at Little Stoke in November 2013

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