Running for Refugees


Running for Refugees

Aidan, our Operations Manager, shares with you why he's running the London Marathon for JRS

21 January 2019

Running for Refugees

Today, we introduce our first runner for the London Marathon, Aidan, who is the Operations Manager at JRS UK. Here he tells us what has motivated him to take up the challenge!


I’ve always thought that one day I would run a marathon, it had always been on some sort of bucket list in my head. As I’m turning 50 in August it felt that perhaps now was the right time to sign myself up. However, the main motivating factor to take up such an enormous challenge has been witnessing the great work of all the staff and volunteers in my role at JRS. The opportunity to raise money to support this work was one that I could not let pass me by.

Last September was when I officially decided to sign up. Almost immediately my nearest and dearest, in the time honoured fashion, started to offer their “helpful advice”:

  • “You need to start running” (yes, thanks for that reminder),
  • “You need to start stretching”
  • “You need to get your HEART checked out!!”
  • “Have you considered visiting fewer pubs, you do know the bar staff won’t be offended if you don’t go in?”

Admittedly that last piece of advice was from myself, but you get the gist of what was going on. I was receiving a tremendous amount of “helpful advice”, but it was hardly the most motivating, and to begin with my response to it was often less than polite, I’m sorry to say.

A few weeks later I was sharing these words of wisdom with Sr. Rachel, a fabulous volunteer here at JRS. I told her about all the free advice that was coming my way and she gently pointed out that this was because these people care about me. I hadn’t thought of it that way. I realised that I was getting annoyed with them because I thought they were all claiming to be mini experts on long distance running!

I’m not the stubborn type and I did listen to their advice. I started running, stretching and got my heart checked out almost immediately … the pub visits we can talk about at a later date. My preparation has not been without its setbacks, including a head cold, a persistent calf injury and a blow to the forehead, all before Christmas! Thankfully I’m getting there at last with the training and the new year has certainly begun with a lot of exercise.

Even with this good start, I am still very apprehensive about all the training that I need to do in the next 14 weeks or so, but a great man once said, and sang, ‘Dedication’s what you need if you want to be a record breaker’! I’m not sure I’ll be catching up with Mo but I’ll certainly be smashing a few personal records when I complete the course.

I’m also boosted day in day out by my colleagues at JRS. Only Liliane, our Day Centre officer, looks concerned at the thought of me running 26 miles, while the rest of the team seem to think it’s a great idea. Another colleague, Naomi said to me the other day, ‘Hey Aidan, you’ll probably lose some toenails when you run the marathon’, her tone suggesting that this was a good thing, like shifting a few pounds. I fear this will not be the last I’ll hear from her.

I’m in a privileged position here at JRS as every day I get to experience how much love and help the team are able to give. This is why raising this money is so important to me. We have been able to increase our capacity to accompany, and get to know more of our friends more closely. I see first hand the support our refugee friends receive with special grants and I know more funding is needed to enable more to be given. Recently Jonathan, our Head of Accompaniment, was telling me how many of these special grants are needed to help pregnant women, with no statutory provision, buy food and other essential items. If that doesn’t motivate me to reach my goals, I’m not sure what will.

I’m really hoping that your generous sponsorship and messages of goodwill will inspire me to train hard from now on, but it could be a long day on April 28th! I’ll see you all at the finish line.


Aidan is running the London Marathon on Sunday 28th April to raise money for JRS UK. This money will help JRS to continue to accompany destitute and detained refugees in a spirit of hospitality, welcome and love.

Visit Aidan’s JustGiving page and help him to reach his £2000 fundraising target!

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Jesuit Refugee Service UK
The Hurtado Jesuit Centre
2 Chandler Street, London E1W 2QT

020 7488 7310

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