A 12-strong team of mental health professionals is ready to pound the streets of Oxford in the city’s half marathon to help our patients and colleagues

A service director, ward manager, social workers and therapists are among a team of Oxford Health fitness fans aiming to stride out in style and raise £3,000 for a cause close to their hearts – an outdoor gym to boost the wellbeing of mental health patients and staff.

They’ll be pounding the streets of Oxford on Sunday, October 13 in the city’s fast and flat 13.1 mile route which speeds by world-famous museums, universities, and parks.

Using the team name Oxford Half for Oxford Health (Oh4Oh), the dashing dozen will be darting through historic city streets to raise money for Oxford Health Charity and to support a fund to create an outdoor gym that will benefit  patients and staff at the Littlemore Mental Health Centre.

Keen runner Emma Croft, Oxford Health’s specialised services allied health professions lead, is leading the charge. She said: “Our Littlemore site covers a variety of adult, forensic and mental health wards as well as  supported living housing. Many of our service users are with us for extended periods and have limited access to gyms or wellbeing activities outside of the wards.

“We believe outdoor gym equipment on the Littlemore meadow site will really enhance the area giving people a beautiful place to exercise while enjoying the benefits of fresh air and nature.

“We’ll be working with our patients and service users to listen to their views and suggestions and develop something truly wonderful that will make a huge difference to everyone. Exercise, activity and fresh air boosts everyone’s mental health.”

Inspired by the efforts of Lynda Dix, the trust’s forensic head of nursing who recently completed the 100km Chiltern Challenge walk raising £1,200 for the outdoor gym, Emma has now rallied the support of work friends and colleagues to field a full team for the event.

Emma, who once ran a half marathon while six months pregnant, has signed up Vanessa Odlin, service director for Oxfordshire and BSW mental health services; Andrea Davis, social care lead; Vicky Drew, apprenticeships lead; and Darren Davies, forensic health and fitness instructor.

Among other runners confirmed are Kirsty Smith, PEACE coordinator and Douglas Green, clinical trainer in learning and development.

Some of the Oxford Half for Oxford Health team are seasoned runners while for others the event will test their stamina to the limit.

All of them are bonding and undertaking training runs to make sure they are in the peak of fitness before the big event in just over nine weeks’ time where they’ll rack up a 156-mile distance.

And they are hoping for lots of support from friends, colleagues and family to help smash their fundraising target and to cheer them on their way on half marathon day.

There’s some money already mounting up in the fundraising pot, so if you would like to contribute please either visit their page on the Oxford Health Charity website of their justgiving page.