This came for me in the post today.
It's a DBS - Disclosure and Barring Service - certificate, and it means that I've been checked out by the Criminal Records Bureau and found to have a clean record. I've had the check done before, when I used to spend a morning every week reading with kids in a local primary school. This time around, I've been checked as part of the process I'm going through with England Athletics to become a properly registered guide for visually impaired runners. Apparently, according to the certificate, England Athletics are now my employers.
I've guided Terry for a little while now - he hasn't required a background check - but England Athletics have been looking to kick off a register of qualified guides, and I thought I'd give it a go. Running has blossomed as a participation sport in this country, thanks in no small part to parkrun. All sorts of people are starting to get involved, and England Athletics have a view that visually impaired people are no different, and many would probably like to start running, but obviously their barriers to getting started are that much bigger. I love volunteering at parkrun, and I love guiding Terry... and it seems such a small thing to do that could potentially make such a massive difference to someone's life.
I wasn't really expecting very much to come of this, but almost immediately, England Athletics have put me in touch with a lovely guy who lives fairly near Colwick. He's 63, is blind and has had multiple organ transplants (in fact, he's a gold medallist at the World Transplant Games, no less!). He likes to run, and participates in half marathons, but he's been struggling for some time to find a guide. 24 hours after he got in touch with England Athletics, I'd set up a date to take him out around Colwick parkrun. I'm marathon training at the moment, so I can't commit a whole lot of time to guiding (I think he'd quite like a guide to take him to the various competitions he enters), but I will be at Colwick most Saturdays for a gentle loosener, and there's no reason why I can't do that with someone else in tow and it feels good to be able to help. Besides, the parkrun team at Colwick are brilliant and they'll be able to help this chap to find more guides to help him out more of the time. In the meantime, the volunteer credits for guiding him around parkrun are all mine!
He might not like me, of course...
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