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Alex Eagle, co-founder and CEO of The Running Charity, is this month's Westlab Hero. The Running Charity delivers running and fitness programmes to young people at risk and affected by homelessness. The work they do has a powerful impact on the young people they work with. Alex started out helping 12 incredible young people alongside his full time job. He quickly realised there was nothing of its kind available for young people that had complex needs. He saw the profound difference it made to them, so he built up this extra work every evening for almost two years. He kept on seeing the same rewarding outcomes and that led him to creating and co-founding it as a registered charity. We caught up with Alex this week to find out more about the amazing work they do.
Why do you do the work in the community that you do?
From an early age I had been involved in coaching sport and loved to help people tap into their potential. I love seeing people achieve things they thought was impossible.
What inspires you?
Many things inspire me: our young people first and foremost - it astonishes me how talented and kind they all are in the face of such hardship.
Why do you want to help others?
Because it’s the best thing you can do with your life, to be able to make a positive impact on those around you is such a privilege.
What's the most challenging part of the work?
Working with young people with multiple and complex needs can often feel like one step forward and two steps back, but we expect that challenge and we are resilient and skilled at what we do. The most challenging thing is just trying to survive as a charity. But by far the most frustrating thing is seeing the development of our young people thwarted by a system that isn’t fit for purpose.
Tell us about a highlight so far/greatest achievement?
Well there are so many success stories I can go into; I really value that moment where a young person begins to realise how powerful and capable they really are. I have also taken great pride in being able to hire young people who have been through our programme; both Claude and Steven are such incredible humans, having joined our organisation when they were younger, and now getting to work alongside them is truly special.
What do you hope to achieve through your work?
Well the ultimate goal is not to need to exist, we only exist because the problem is there, and I feel our interventions are incredibly meaningful and really give young people the roots to grow and build their lives.
If you could share one piece of advice what would it be?
When times are really difficult ensure that you care for yourself, whether that be going for a run, spending time with family, reading, whatever nurtures your mental wellbeing.
Alex wants to focus on building the organisation to be sustainable in the UK and in time will expand the work throughout Europe, America and Australia. He wants to be able to help as many people as possible and he has done that by finding people that are passionate about running and supporting people within their communities.
Check out their website www.therunningcharity.org
Instagram, Twitter and Facebook: @therunningcharity