England Athletics is the membership and development body for athletics and running clubs in England. StreetGames and EA have periodically collaborated over the years but most recently, EA have had huge success training their workforce through the StreetGames Training Academy.

After signing up to the 21 by 21 campaign, (a national campaign to encourage 21,000 sports coaches and volunteers to become trained in mental health awareness by the year 2021) EA reached out to StreetGames to help integrate mental health training into a running programme.

The rollout of mental health training began in March 2020 with a plan of 10 workshops, but initially they struggled to fill capacity. Liz - EA’s Inclusion Manager, believes the main reason for this was due to the long time commitment and travel requirements affecting their already busy volunteers. Workshops were therefore getting low numbers for a while, until they were all halted due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Virtual Switch

EA took huge advantage of a new virtual working culture and continued to schedule StreetGames training courses throughout lockdown. Their first two online courses were oversubscribed overnight and proved to be a huge success. Liz says the increased attendance was really positive and was glad to see such an uptake, but was also full of praise for all the benefits virtual courses provide, such as:

  • Much less time and money is asked of people when delivering virtually – its 3 hours from the comfort of their home, no additional travel time or expenses!
  • Everyone’s increased availability due to lockdown made a huge difference, ‘we would never usually run a workshop in December as people have too many things on’.
  • Logistics wise – it’s a workload and another expense removed for Liz in terms of booking venues, arranging the room, buying refreshments and printing paperwork. ‘This can be a lot of time and effort across ten workshops!’
  • There are a greater variety of tutors available when delivering virtually, whereas usually it would be the same local tutor. This has also allowed participants to meet new people from around the country, sharing and listening to new ideas and approaches.
  • ‘The standard of content and engagement was great and although the personal touch of face-to-face workshops can’t be replaced, the benefits of virtual workshops far outweigh this! Features such as whiteboards and breakout rooms really help with this’.

EA and StreetGames have now delivered six virtual workshops, all of which have been at full capacity between 10-12 people, training at least 60 people overall. EA’s Mental Health Champions will be implementing their new knowledge across the country as part of their #RunandTalk programme, as their running groups return to activity.