Last time we held small park BIG RUNin Meersbrook Park in 2019, the final hour was coined Buskers’ Hour. And it’s back! Musicians are positioned around the run circuit to encourage weary final hour participants and kicking off the festive celebratory atmosphere for the end of run rally. It will be 11.00am-noon on Sunday 19th June.
With some runners near to completing the whole 24 hours, their services will be needed more than ever! We’re delighted to have eight groups of very talented musicians kindly donating their time, efforts and happiness to us.
These include highly talented singer-songwriters, a ten piece folk band, a community choir recently returned from Palestine, a Sheffield street band, a heavy metal acoustic duo. It’s going to be a blast!
This is the complete list. Thank you all!
1 Well Dressed Band are a community based folk band based in the Peak District 2 Cobalt Tales are a female duo based in Sheffield that tours the UK and festival circuit 3 Sheffield Street Band is a well known local collective of musicians 4 Julia Waldron is a wonderful singer songwriter/guitarist from Sheffield. 5 Megatron Death is inspirational heavy metal folk. 6 Tadhamon choir is an ensemble of singers very supportive of the Palestine cause 7 John , Guy, Rob and special guest are talented Meersbrook residents 8 Chrystine Moon is another fabulous local musician and singer songwriter.
Below you can see where they will all be playing on this map and also some lovely pictures of the musicians in their element!
small park BIG RUN organisers were enormously privileged to interview two Palestinian refugees earlier this year. The accounts they gave were moving, fascinating, frank, honest and inspiring in equal measure. We are very grateful to them for sharing their personal and painful stories.
Sahar Awadallah and Kholoud Al-Ajarma both told of how their families were expelled from their homes seventy years ago – and are still dreaming, three generations later, of their return.
Sahar spoke of the insecurity she experienced as a child moving multiple times from country to country, with a bag permanently packed ready for the next upheaval. She spoke of her anger that she must seek permission to visit her hometown. And she also spoke of her annoyance at the double standards and hypocrisy that the Russian invasion of Ukraine has again revealed. Where it has now become OK to call for sanctions against a country accused of aggression and occupation – this was not the case for those calling for a boycott of Israeli goods who were often accused of racism and exceptionalism.
Kholoud told us of her life – where at first she didn’t realise she was growing up living in a refugee camp, she thought everyone lived like that! But slowly she discovered that although Aida refugee camp was her home, it wasn’t her homeland.
She spoke movingly of the tales her grandparents and parents would tell of their homes, now in Israel, where the cactuses tasted like honey, they ate fresh figs from the trees and they ate fresh bread from the oven. With weekly markets and friendly people all around. This memory stood in stark contrast to the refugee camp she found herself in, with its daily Israeli army raids and the smell of tear gas, rather than fresh bread, in the air.
Kholoud said that that although the stories her family told her seemed to be like fairy tales when she managed to finally visit their family homeland those stories turned out to be true. Beautiful countryside with space to live in, to return to, and air to breath.
You can listen to the interviews in full, by following the links below.
small park BIG RUN would like to thank both Sahar and Kholoud from the bottom of our hearts for their collaboration and cooperation.
Throughout Covid we continued to hold small park BIG RUN, but in the format of a virtual/DIY event where people did activities wherever they felt safe – be that their home, garden, or outside. After a two year gap we are delighted that the small park BIG RUN (#spBR22) will take place, for real, in Meersbrook Park, Sheffield, noon-noon, 18-19 June 2022. There will also be music, singing, poetry, tea, coffee, cake, lantern making, exhibitions and more.
Sign up to the DIY event – over the last two years small parkBIG RUN hasn’t been held in the park but wherever people felt safe to do their own DIY activities. If you are unable to attend the physical event in the park you can stull participate however you like, in a place and at at time of your own choosing
Sign up to volunteer to marshal. The event depends on an army of volunteers to ensure the welfare of he runners and other park users. We would be so grateful you can spare an hour.
THE EVENT #spBR22 is a 24-hour group community challenge from Saturday 18 June to Sunday 19 June – noon to noon. You choose the time and length you want to run, walk or jog around laps of Meersbrook Park. From 30 mins to 24 hours! At noon on Sunday there will be a free one lap Fun Run link up with friends in Palestine and, all being well, refreshments in the Walled Garden.
THE THEME IS REFUGEES Each year we pick a different theme to raise awareness of a particular problem for Palestinian people. Read more about the theme here.
ALL ARE WELCOME The event will be as inclusive and welcoming as possible. We would like to help overcome the many barriers experienced by people from marginalised groups, ethnicities, religions, genders and disabilities. If you require support to help you participate, please contact us. firstname.lastname@example.org
STAY IN TOUCH! We publish a regular newsletter in the months leading up to the event in June – if you would like to get updates about the event, the projects we support, information about Palestine and more please sign up here!
CONTACT US! / SPEAK TO US! / JOIN US! We have multiple social media channels! We’d love to hear from you. And remember if you share stuff please use our hashtag: #spBR22
RUNS IN PALESTINE – In 2019 seven runs took place in Palestine at the same time as ours. They were held in the spirit of friendship and solidarity. Plans are still being made for 2022 but we can happily confirm there will be a run in Nablus. Below are picture of the Nablus 2019 Run for Freedom/small park BIG RUN.
Below is a small selection of photos from our last Meersbrook Park event in 2019.
Many people do their small park BIG RUN DIY activities in groups, with some amazingly creative and impressive efforts recorded. Since the beginning five years ago Good Gym Sheffield has put together 24 hour teams who have performed some extraordinary and inspiring efforts. Here Good Gym Sheffield member Andrew tells us what they did for #spBR21.
“Good Gym Sheffield joined Small Park Big Run on what has become an annual fixture for us. We had 18 runners – and between us we covered the whole 24 hours – often with more than one runner out at any given time.
“There were some truly amazing efforts – Dana ran for the whole 24 hours, running over 100 miles on a treadmill and raising over £1,500 for the SPBR charities; Rachel ran a mile each hour for the whole 24 hours; Celine ran the Limestone Way [46 miles]; and Katy ran the Round Sheffield Run – twice [30 miles]!
“The mere mortals in the team hit the trails in the parks, woods and streets around Sheffield and the Peak – with one or two unable to resist the lure of the Meersbrook Hill.
“At midday on Sunday a number of us joined the event in Meersbrook Park – and the weather was kind enough to let us sit out for a picnic and enjoy the singing and music. We’ll definitely be back next year – supporting the event once more – and “looking forward” to 24 hours on the hill.
“Until then our thoughts are with those in Palestine.”
I have taken part in this event ever since I knew it existed. I joined small park BIG RUN (#spBR21) at Meersbrook Park in 2019 (having posted leaflets about the event with GoodGym) and then contributed 3 hours of running last year as part of the DIY lockdown event. I knew this year I wanted to try a solo challenge. As a Palestinian, the charity focus is always close to my heart, but more so now that so many others are speaking up and sharing the truth, there is so much good done already, but it is ever more necessary now.
My Gazan father was forced out of his home as a child, becoming a refugee and we have family still living in the apartheid state. Being Palestinian and British means I feel it is my duty to speak up and be proactive. The sense of collective community and kindness shown by Sheffield Palestine Cultural Exchange (SPaCE), Sheffield Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC), Sheffield Palestine Women’s Scholarship Fund and the local Meersbrook and Heeley community to help improve the life chances, aspirations, and opportunities for the most marginalised and silenced voices in the world means so much to me. Shukran for all donations, be they solidarity miles or money.
I’m aiming to try to cover no less than 120km, so averaging about 5km an hour. If I can push towards 150km I will be proud – but the resilience to be on a treadmill, in my Baba’s Garage is going to be one of the more challenging aspects of my run. I am trialling my hourly speed at present, playing around with splitting my hours into fast and slow intervals to keep energised, allow food, and clock up the mileage. A day of discomfort is nothing compared to the conditions and treatment of Palestinians controlled by illegal occupation since 1948 and the pain of those (like my father) who find themselves interrogated and refused return to see loved ones.
I run to hopefully one day be able to see the village where my family comes from. To see it in more than just photos. #FreeFreePalestine
If anyone has any recommendations for my running playlist – English or Arabic classics (big fan of 90’s arab pop!) send them through.
For her ‘small park BIG RUN DIY activity’ Kate Halliwell has very kindly offered to run a community philosophy workshop. Read Kate’s invite below and please think about signing up!
“If you would like to explore concepts such as justice, damage, equality, race and human rights come along to my Community Philosophy Zoom session. We’ll share our ideas, beliefs and experiences to delve deeper into various themes relating to Palestine and beyond. Since we are all philosophers at heart, no knowledge of philosophy is needed. Just bring a spoon! Saturday 20th June from 3pm-5pm.
Arif Ali will be running the small park BIG RUN as a member of the big Steel City Striders team that will cover the whole 24 hours in hour slots. Below, Arif tells us about his approach to running, what it’s like to run in Ramadan and sends a message of support to our friends in Palestine.
Who are you? Please introduce yourself!
Hi, my name is Arif, I was born in London, and moved to Sheffield over 14 years ago, when I came for my first job in Sheffield. I enjoy IT, and my work is also in IT. And obviously I love running
Tell us about your running journey. Why did you start?
When I used to be in London several years ago, up until 2003, I used to run regularly around Wanstead Flats area. We used to do this on approx. twice a week and with the group of people I was running approx. 15 kilometres a week
When I moved to Sheffield in December 2003, first, I got lazy, and secondly, I blamed the hills for not running; so, I got really unfit and put on some weight.
As of January 2017, I re-started running, in the aim for raising monies for Cancer Research UK (CRUK), on the basis of how much the NHS and the Cancer support did for my mother.
This was a very slow process, and very tiresome. I joined the gym, and my first attempt only lasted about 10 mins doing about half a mile. However, I slowly progressed over a few months, and I found that I was able to do about 5K on the treadmill, and within that time I found out about parkrun; so, I decided to take that on in March. I’m proud to say, that my first parkrun time was 34:14.
After a small break of small injuries, I was back on it again in September, especially with my first ever 10K race coming up at the end of September
I joined the Steel City Striders (SCS) in September 2017 just before doing the Sheffield 10K. As it’s a big club you have a variety of people with newbies and some people with great experience. I learnt loads from the Facebook group, where I was given great encouragement, advice and support. Further from that, running regularly in the training runs, I have met some great people with great experiences. Just by running with these people, I have learnt loads, and have been able to apply the advice that they have given. This has helped me a lot over the past 6 months, with my running journey.
The Steel City Striders contingent at the Sheffield Half Marathon
Why are you participating in the small park BIG RUN?
I am a runner, and also try to support campaigns where possible for Palestine. This event combined both factors together.
What do you hope it will achieve?
I would hope that it can raise further awareness of the issues in Gaza and the rest of Palestine.
What do you think you will get from participating in the small park BIG RUN.
I would hope to speak to people, and find real life stories on issues in Palestine as well as having some fun at the same time.
Do you have a message for our friends in Gaza?
Stay firm and resolute, our prayers are with you, and hopefully you are able to get freedom that you seek.
What has it been like training for this run during Ramadan?
This was my first year running in Ramadhan, and I was quite nervous and apprehensive. The main reason being was about hydration and tiredness after the runs. I had also signed up for a race, which was being staged 5 days after the start of Ramadhan too. I found a small post from a Muslim football coach who had a few great pointers, I picked on a few of these, and I believe this has helped overall. When I did my initial run I felt good and there were no adverse effects later in the day. You can read more about my experience of the race in my blog.
Overall after this experience, I will have managed to do more miles in the month of Ramadhan. With a week to go I have managed 106 miles, and my record in a Gregorian calendar month is 110 miles. I am expecting to beat that by about 10 miles if everything goes to plan.
So, all in all, it’s been a fantastic month when it’s come to running!
Anything else you’d like to say?
I hope we can raise more money than last year, and we can go beyond that. I hope this is an enjoyable event for everyone, and we can raise awareness of the issues in Palestine.
“I’m honoured to be involved with and coach such a fantastic group of women, who have done so much for the community, and if by taking part in small park BIG RUN they can also help support other women in Palestine then that’s even better!” says Jay Baker, of AFC Unity.
Jay tells us more below about AFC Unity and why they are relishing the challenge of taking part in the small park BIG RUN in Meersbrook Park, Sheffield, on 16/17 June.
“AFC Unity is a social enterprise and one of the very few independent women’s football clubs around. It fields an 11-a-side first team playing in the Sheffield & Hallamshire Women’s County Football League.
“The club runs introductory sessions called Solidarity Soccer created for women wanting to get involved in the sport, and several community campaigns from being one of the very first football clubs to support food banks with matchday donation drives, to offering discounts for trade union members and promoting trade unionism, to maintaining a commitment to only using certified fairtrade footballs in training sessions and home games.
“AFC Unity was also a key host on the Sheffield stop of last year’s UK tour of the Diyar women’s football team from Bethlehem, with a tournament at the U-Mix Centre which raised awareness of the plight of Palestine not just in Sheffield, but amongst the AFC Unity players themselves, who were moved to try and do more for the Palestinian cause. [Diyar opened and then participated in small park BIG RUN 2017!, Ed]
“Taking part in small park BIG RUN is just one of the things AFC Unity has chosen to do, with several first team players relishing the challenge of running together in small park BIG RUN at the start of their pre-season schedule!
“AFC Unity co-founders Jay Baker and Jane Watkinson may not be doing much more than walking due to injuries, but are hoping AFC Unity players will continue to set the bar higher for football teams utilising the sport for positive social change.
“‘As a player myself,’ explains Jane, ‘I feel pride in playing for a team that extends its sense of teamwork and collectivism beyond the football pitch, and small park BIG RUN is a worthy and important part of that.’
“Adds Jay: ‘I’m honoured to be involved with and coach such a fantastic group of women, who have done so much for the community, and if by taking part in small park BIG RUN they can also help support other women in Palestine then that’s even better!'”
Thanks so much to AFC Unity for your support! For more information visit their website.