On Sunday, September 10th, five firefighters from the Leicestershire Fire & Rescue Service - Coalville Station, participated in the Great North Run. One of these was our colleague and Health & Wellbeing Lead, Karl.
Despite the sweltering heat that day, the committed team were determined to do a good job and raise as much money and awareness as they could and I have no doubt that the two great charities for whom they were doing this – 4Louis and Young Lives vs Cancer - will be incredibly grateful for their efforts. Fundraising can be a huge challenge for charities currently so we all need as much help and support as we can get to ensure we can keep doing the great work we were set up to do.
There is another very important reason behind the firefighters’ participation in The Great North Run, in addition to fundraising for these amazing charities. This is, ultimately, to improve their mental health.
Running as a group is one of the ways in which they support each other with their mental health. We all know how brave those working in our emergency services are and the sacrifices they can make to help keep us safe. So for them, running is their escape from battling infernos and rescuing people and a healthy way for them to connect away from the intensity and pressure being a hero can cause. This event was the culmination of weeks of training and camaraderie and demonstrates how far they will go with their heroic actions in supporting other organisations that mean something to them.
Indeed all those who took part in the Run to raise money for charities that are close to their hearts were heroes and as charities we are all incredibly grateful to them for making this sacrifice on a particularly hot day. I cannot imagine what determination and resilience it took for one of the firefighters who wore his full firefighter gear to take part. Imagine the heat of 30+ degrees, running 13.1 miles in firefighter gear. Admittedly it is designed to resist heat, but not that sort of heat! I have so much admiration for this tremendous dedication.
What is also evident is the camaraderie of a team as they all put aside any thoughts of competition or achieving the best possible time to run at a rate which was comfortable (if you can even say that) for their fully clad colleague. In thinking about mental health and how you cope in a difficult job, camaraderie is so important. As is accepting that you may not all feel like brave heroes every day of the week and you need your colleagues to be accepting of that because it’s okay.
At Enrych we are currently focusing on what we can do to support World Mental Health Day, which is on Tuesday October 10th. We are already organising activities and will be encouraging everyone in the community to get involved at our Feel Good Café. We’ll be encouraging people to think about how they are feeling and look after their mental health because, as this year’s theme for the day suggests, mental health is a universal human right. And making a difference can take the simplest of forms – just asking someone if they are okay can go a very long way.