Exercise training provided to homelessness charity

Friday, 10 June 2016

Group training at Brookes

Students and staff from Oxford Brookes’ Department of Sport and Health Sciences have been busy training a group of clients from Crisis, the national homelessness charity, to prepare them for a charity run.

Crisis is the national charity for single homeless people. They work with thousands of homeless people across the UK every year providing vital services, including locally at their Crisis Skylight centre at the Old Fire Station in Oxford.

Five local participants from Crisis will be taking part in the charity’s popular Square Mile Run in London on Thursday 16 June.

It has been really enjoyable to work with the group and encourage their training. We have been able to demonstrate the extent of the fitness improvements that are achievable with exercise training. It is also a great opportunity for our students to enhance their hands-on learning.

Rick Varnham, Department of Sport and Health Sciences, Oxford Brookes University

Since May this year the group have been attending training sessions with the sports and exercise team at Oxford Brookes’ Human Performance Laboratory, undertaking fitness tests to help monitor their training and track their progress. The testing is designed to measure the participants' highest achievable rate of oxygen consumption, known as VO2max. It is known that people with high VO2max values generally perform better at endurance exercise.  

Rick Varnham, Laboratory Technician in the Department of Sport and Health Sciences at Oxford Brookes University, is involved with the analysis work. He said: “We have been providing physiological exercise testing in our lab and are repeating these tests in the lead up to the Square Mile Run. It has been really enjoyable to work with the group and encourage their training. We have been able to demonstrate the extent of the fitness improvements that are achievable with exercise training. It is also a great opportunity for our students to enhance their hands-on learning.”

This exercise testing is part of an ongoing relationship the department have with Crisis, providing support to the charity through placements, talks and workshops on nutrition and wellbeing, research and volunteering opportunities.

Kate Cocker, Director of Crisis Skylight Oxford, said: “We are extremely grateful to Oxford Brookes for inviting our clients to use their training laboratory – it’s given them the best possible preparation for the Crisis Square Mile Run next week. Being part of an event that sees the streets of London packed with people running to end homelessness will be very special, and I know our clients feel ready to take on the challenge thanks to the work of the staff there and at Crisis Skylight Oxford.”

The local group will join 2,000 others taking to the streets of London on 16 June for the run in a bid to raise funds towards ending homelessness. To support the group donate via their fundraising page online.

More information about the Square Mile Run can be found on the Crisis website.

Crisis Skylight Oxford is one of the charity’s award-winning education, training and employment centres. It offers a wide range of workshops and accredited courses as well as advice and training opportunities. They also have a social enterprise café on site, open to the public, which provides experience and accredited on-the-job training for Crisis Skylight members.

Image: Four of the participants from Crisis and Rick Varnham, Oxford Brookes