British Blind Sport and British Athletics have launched a national database of guide runners to encourage and support people with visual impairments to go running.
The new database, called 'Find a guide' will help match visually impaired runners with licensed guides, and alongside it the two organisations have established a training and licensing scheme for runners who are keen to become guides themselves.
Logan Gray, National Partnerships Manager at British Blind Sport, told ConnectSport: "One of the main things we're trying to tackle with this is social isolation.
"One in four people with visual impairments, and disabilities generally in the UK, will experience depression at some point in a year. With our 'Find a guide' service we are trying to get people out, active and connected with other runners, using regular exercise as a vehicle to improve their lives."
The need for the database has been highlighted by figures from Sport England’s Active People Survey 2016, which show that only 10.4% of adults with a visual impairment take part in sport once a week, compared to 36.1% of non-disabled adults.
All registered guide runners have attended a Sight Loss Awareness and Guide Running Workshop and cleared a DBS check.
The two-hour workshop equips runners, leaders and coaches with the information to safely guide visually impaired runners. It covers a number of areas, including:
- types of visual impairment (VI)
- behaviour and terminology
- how to make running sessions VI friendly
- practical exercise guiding and being guided by a fellow runner
There are 13 workshops planned across England in 2018 so anyone interested in becoming a guide runner should visit www.englandathletics.org/guide-workshop