Volunteer inspired by Salvation Army to run London Marathon

published on 14 Mar 2022

Volunteering at a Salvation Army homeless project helped a runner to overcome mental health challenges and inspired him to sign up to complete the London Marathon for the church and charity.

Jeremy Sandford, 57 who was inspired by his experience helping out at The Salvation Army’s homeless project in Chatham, took up long-distance running to help manage his well-being.

After losing his home and spending time in a homeless hostel in Kent, Jeremy began volunteering at the homeless project. This helped him to focus and benefited his mental health.

He said: “A couple of times, people had a go, saying ‘what do you know?’ and I was able to say, ‘I live in a hostel myself’. This earned me respect as people realised, I had empathy and had experienced their situation.”

Soon Jeremy found that his volunteering inspired him and made him feel more positive.

“It got me grounded and helped me appreciate what I did within that community” he said. “Some people are desperate, and it made me realise there is always someone worse off than you. It was very good for me to have a focus each week.”

Jeremy Sandford
My life hasn’t been a sprint, it’s been a marathon and I’ve rebuilt it through ups and downs with a lot of support.
Jeremy Sandford, Salvation Army Volunteer and London Marathon Runner

Jeremy had already completed the London Marathon once previously. He had enjoyed running since he was at school, and formed a running club in 2019 after he found training in the countryside particularly inspiring.

He also teaches a six-week course for the Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust ‘One Step at a Time: A Running Journey to Recovery’.

Now, Jeremy shares his story and says he is the happiest he has ever been. He says: “My life hasn’t been a sprint, it’s been a marathon and I’ve rebuilt it through ups and downs with a lot of support.”

Major Ian from the Chatham Church and Charity says: "I am delighted to be able to support Jeremy in this marathon. He has done many marathons in his personal life, struggling with mental health issues, but he has persevered and got through. I wish him well in this marathon and congratulate him in his determination and fortitude. Please support if you can, this will be a great encouragement to him and support a worthwhile charity."

Jeremy Sandford holding his medal after completing London Marathon
Jeremy holding his medal after completing the London Marathon in 2018.
One of Team Sally's Striders running the London Marathon

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