Relaunched jogger group looks to boost mental health

It’s full steam ahead for a Spondon jogging group as they celebrate receiving funding which will enable them to bring a much-loved community activity back to life.

Spondon Joggers was initially set up to offer people a safe space to jog together, following an assault in a local park, but as a result of the pandemic had become a virtual, online group.

Now, local pair Hayley Morgan and Al Ditheridge are keen to revive the group by joining the Jog Derbyshire network.

Al was diagnosed with a severe panic disorder a year ago and his personal story is what’s driven his passion for leading a jogging group.

He said: “That’s something that’s been underlying for a number of years and I didn’t realise it. Running was really helping me through that. If I’m feeling anxious and I go out for a run I feel so much more relaxed and it puts me in a really good place.”

Being part of a group and the mental and physical support this brings is key for Al.

He said: “From a physical perspective obviously you’ve got the encouragement there, you’ve got the camaraderie there, you’ve got people being able to give you confidence in your abilities, whatever those abilities are.

“But also from a mental wellbeing perspective you’ve kind of got support there if you need it. You don’t always have to plug into it or you don’t always have to talk and tell people how you’re feeling, I find just being there and being with other people helps.”

Al and Hayley needed to find funding to gain their Leadership in Running Fitness qualifications to enable them to lead the group safely.

After approaching Jog Derbyshire, connections were made with Move More Derby and an application was made to Spondon Neighbourhood Board for funding, which was successful.

Al and Hayley will now complete their qualifications before re-launching the group with a couch to 5k programme, to introduce beginners to the physical and mental health benefits of jogging

Al said: “Being part of Jog Derbyshire is great because we have that back up from an organisation from a health and safety and insurance perspective.

And that community of people who are doing the same thing.

“You can get ideas and work together, get advice and guidance and all of those sorts of things as well, which I think is a pretty sensible thing to do really when you’re trying to embark on something like this.”

Al is also passionate about making his local community a vibrant, active place.

He said: “I’ve got this vision for Spondon. It would be great if it could be one of the most active villages in Derby at some point. We’ve got some great parks, some great spaces to do this sort of thing. I think it would be great to use them in a positive way.

“It’s really good that the local community Spondon board are on board to help us out with that. It shows their commitment to that sort of thing in our village.”

The Chair of Spondon Neighbourhood Group said: “The Board were delighted to be able to support the application and be able to support the activities of Spondon Joggers.

“Wherever possible we like to promote healthy activities in the community and encourage the use of our parks and open spaces. Jog Derbyshire’s programs provide healthy and safe exercise for people of varying abilities, which can make a great contribution to the health and wellbeing of those taking part.”

Nicky Stanley, Move More Derby Coordinator said: “It’s been a pleasure working with Spondon Joggers and Jog Derbyshire to support them in accessing funds that enable them to start delivering couch to 5k courses in Spondon.

“The positive commitment and approach Al and the team have shown to develop community-led runs really encapsulates the Move More Derby Ambassador Network and we are delighted to welcome Al as our newest member!

“Just like Al, Move More Derby Ambassadors are passionate people championing physical activity for all, connecting to share successes, challenges and opportunities.”


  • the original Spondon Joggers group on their inaugural meet in 2020
  • new group leader, Al Ditheridge