The oldest road race in the UK has been cancelled for only the second time in 109 years this winter, due to COVID-19 restrictions, prompting race-organisers Saltwell Harriers to instead host a virtual event that raised almost £1,000 for local homelessness charity Oasis Community Housing.

The annual 10km road race has been run every year since 1911, excluding one year during WWII.

When social distancing forced the cancellation of December’s race, the running club encouraged their 180 members to independently run the route and donate to charity.

Supporting local

Lyndsey Stephenson, Saltwell Harriers’ Chair, said, “We were really disappointed to have to cancel the race as lots of people usually get involved, so for such an incredible charity donation to be the outcome of our ‘Plan B’ is fantastic!

“Supporting ‘local’ feels more important than ever given this last year, which is why we wanted the funds to go to a North-East charity that is making a real difference in our communities – as we know Oasis Community Housing does.”

The running club’s donation will go towards one of Oasis Community Housing’s supported accommodation projects, ‘Naomi’ House, which helps young women out of homelessness towards independent living. Staff offer residents practical assistance, such as cooking on a budget and registering with a GP, provide talking therapy sessions and, importantly, try to foster a sense of home during their stay.

David Smith, Oasis Community Housing’s Chief Executive, said: “This winter our Giving A Home appeal has focused on highlighting the warmth, safety and sense of belonging that our projects offer – more than just a roof overhead for people facing homelessness – and those values are at the heart of our communities.

“That’s why we’re so grateful to Saltwell Harriers for their generous donation, which will make a real difference to the young women at Naomi.”

Get involved

Oasis Community Housing are hosting both running and walking challenges this year to help keep community spirits up, and for anyone looking to keep fit during Lockdown. For more information, visit our Events page.