Start Your Own Group
Thank you for showing interest in starting a
Head Runners meet-up!
We established Head Runners to create a safe space for
you to enjoy a run and talk about mental health problems without fear of judgement.
We're thrilled you'd like to bring Head Runners to your local area.
Together we can break the stigma, support each other and make new friends along the way.
Find out all you need to get up and running
Download a copy of our
or check out our guidelines below
Head Runners Meet-Up Starter Pack
Thank you for showing interest in starting a Head Runners meet-up!
We established the Head Runners charity to create a safe space for you to enjoy a run and talk about mental health problems without fear of judgement.
We're thrilled you'd like to bring Head Runners to your local area. Together we can break the stigma, support each other and make new friends along the way.
What happens at a meet-up?
We base our meet-ups around a maximum 5K (3 miles) steady run, with a cup of tea at the end if people wish to chat further. People are welcome to walk if they want to - this is because we know exercise is great for mental health.
The run route should always be gentle and at a steady pace suitable for everyone in the group to be able to chat comfortably whilst running and/or walking.
Anyone who attends is welcome to bring family, friends or even their dog for support. However, most people come alone, so it's important to make everyone feel included. Some people will be in a 'good place' with their mental health and others may be struggling, but the group is open to everyone affected by a mental health condition – their own, or that of someone close to them.
Whether running or walking, anyone under the age of 16 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian at all times. Meet-ups should always be free to attend and non-commercial.
Where should I hold my meet-up?
Decide on a location that's easy to get to (with good public transport links and possibly signposts), which has a central meeting point like a café or local landmark. Everyone can then familiarise themselves with the start and finish point and get refreshments afterwards, and it's also easier to find you.
How do I plan a route?
A circular route or an out-and-back route (to one designated point and straight back) works best, as anyone who loses sight of the group for any reason can find us again. Start and end at your landmark or cafe. A reminder that our runs tend to be a maximum of 5K (3 miles) in distance - for example, a run around the local park. You don't need a complicated or long route, as the aim is to be accessible for all levels of fitness.
What happens now I’ve planned my meet-up?
Tell us which location, date and time you've picked (normally Sunday mornings or a Tuesday
or Thursday evening) by sending an email to email@example.com and we will publicise it on
the Head Runners website and on social media, and list you (by first name only) as the run leader.
Once your group is up and running, help it to grow by posting details of the meet-up on your own
social media through local Facebook groups and pages and by asking others to spread the word.
Remember to take it easy, what you are doing is an amazing thing, but don't push yourself. If it
feels overwhelming or you feel unable to do the run, that's totally ok - just let us know ASAP.
Most importantly, do ask for help if you're struggling - we understand!
Don’t forget to charge your phone before the meet-up, so you can check social media and emails
to know of any last-minute messages (e.g. someone telling you they're running late but still want
to join in). Keep an eye on the hashtag #headrunners.
Anything else I should know?
You could print out our list of useful numbers and helplines from our support page and let people
know you have them so they can seek advice from professional organisations. If you don't own a
printer, use one in your local library.
If the weather's torrential, fewer people might turn up than planned, but there will always be
some who attend. Keep to the agreed meeting point until everyone's arrived.
On the Day
How will I start the meet-up once everyone's arrived?
You could make a little speech about why you're all here, but it doesn't need to be elaborate.
Run through the rules (see below) to reassure everyone.
Go around the group and ask everyone to introduce themselves, saying their name and perhaps a
bit of information, such as where they've travelled from, the last program they watched on TV or
what they do for a living.
Hang around at the meeting point for 5-10 minutes before you start running, in case anyone's
What are the rules of the meet-up?
Head Runners must be a safe space - what happens at the meet-up stays at the meet-up, and we
respect each other's privacy.
People can choose to talk about their mental health or talk about other things, from what's on TV
to current affairs. There is no pressure to discuss your condition, medication or treatment.
A meet-up is not a therapy session and we are not qualified therapists or medical professionals,
we're an informal support group offering a friendly ear.
Group leaders or members might like to take a photo of the meet-up, but they can only do this
with consent. Anyone who doesn't want to be photographed, or tagged in a photo on social media,
must be allowed to opt out.
People can leave at any time if they feel uncomfortable, as long as they let you know they're
The most important thing is that people are up and out. They don’t need to share their inner
thoughts unless they want to.
Congratulate everyone on coming to the group - and give yourself a pat on the back!
How does a meet-up finish?
At the end of a meet-up, we tend to either have a short chat at our finish point or go to a local café and continue the chat – it’s good to talk. However this is optional.
Try and get people's email addresses, to let them know about upcoming runs. Hopefully you will find people who could help organise the meet-ups when you are busy!
We recommend holding a meet-up once or twice a month, but see what works for your group - your members may want to meet more often. There is no pressure for members to attend every group.
What if nobody turns up?
Most meet-ups involve 5-15 people but if only one person turns up, it will be worth it! You can build the group over time. Because meet-ups only take around an hour and are so important for wellbeing, most people do attend once they've agreed to.
Any tips for keeping conversation flowing?
People often open up about their interests, like films, TV, books and hobbies. Pets, jobs and family
members are also good conversation starters.
If you feel comfortable, share a bit of your own story to make people feel at ease.
If anyone looks lonely or becomes separated from the group, make an effort to involve them.
Help - I don't feel up to running the event today - what do I do?
Send us an email ASAP to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will be in touch.
We will post on our website and on social media to let everyone know the event won't go ahead.
Don't take it out on yourself if you are unable to run a planned meet-up, we only ask that you let us know at the earliest opportunity so we can keep everyone informed.
If you have any more questions about the planning stages email us at email@example.com
To tell us about your confirmed run plans, please email the date, time and location of your run to firstname.lastname@example.org
We look forward to helping you run your own Head Runners meet-up soon!