Hundreds of people living in Direct Provision centres and Irish runners in Cork are running in ‘Sanctuary Runner’ tops funded by Cork City Council’s Social Inclusion Unit.
Co-founder of Sanctuary Runners, Graham Clifford notes: “The Sanctuary Runners initiative is now nationwide and it all started here in Cork. Cork City Council have supported us from day one and without their support and encouragement we would have struggled to get out of the blocks. And now we’re making international headlines. Our aim is to bring Irish people, permanent residents from elsewhere and those in Direct Provision together through running. To break down barriers and foster solidarity, friendship and respect…and to have a hell of a lot of fun along the way. In our new blue tops we hope to have a team of 300 people running in this year’s Cork City Marathon including 75 from within Direct Provision. Together we will cross the finishing line as one. And we’re calling on the sound people of Cork to join us again, to run with us, to dare to care and to never be afraid to do the right thing’’
Lord Mayor Cllr. Mick Finn said: “It’s great to see a group like the Sanctuary Runners organised in Cork which is again leading the way in developing pioneering models of community integration. Well done to Tony Power and all at Cork City Council for supporting the group comprising many nationalities.”
Social Inclusion Specialist at Cork City Council, Tony Power said “Cork City Council are proud to have been involved from the start with such a simple but powerful idea. The ripple effects of running in Solidarity, forging Friendships and breaking down the faceless barrier of exclusion can be seen in the nationwide spread of Sanctuary Runners, attracting international media attention and offering the opportunity for those in Direct Provision to meet and mix with their neighbours.
It shows the wonderful spirit of local people, willing to engage and volunteer and while it promotes the Health and Wellbeing of participants, the real connection is made over the cup of coffee afterwards. Cork City Council will continue to support such an incredible movement.”
The Sanctuary Runners was established in Cork in February 2018 by writer and broadcaster Graham Clifford and photographer Clare Keogh with the support of Cork City Council and The Tomar Trust. Since then, the initiative founded in Cork has hit the ground running – the team now has 40 nationalities participating in their weekly runs, and for the 2018 Cork City Marathon they had a team of over 200 including 51 people from across the five Direct Provision centres in Cork. At this year’s Cork City Marathon, the Sanctuary Runners team have already signed up 300 participants including 75 people from Direct Provision Centres. The Sanctuary Runners movement has now spread across the country with teams in Dublin, Limerick, Kerry, Waterford, Galway and Longford.
In addition, the Sanctuary Runners have teamed up with the parkruns movement so that people in Direct Provision can run with Irish people locally thereby creating friendships, increasing awareness and enabling them to take part in regular exercise.