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How Run Free bucked the trend in lockdown

THE past 18 months have, on the whole, been about things being stopped, shut and halted.

But, amid the uncertainty, came the creation of Run Free who bucked the trend to form their own mental health support group.

In their first 12 months, the Southend based group have made incredible progress.

However, Chris Phillips – who co-founded the group with Eddy Cooper – is keen to keep on achieving.

“Our first year at Run Free has been fantastic but we want to keep on raising awareness about mental health issues and do all we can to help those struggling,” said Chris.

“Both Eddy and I have faced our own mental health issues and sport has played a big part in helping us get them through.

“We wanted to expand on that so we made Run Free and it’s been brilliant.”

Run Free has two main areas as it hosts its own podcast alongside fortnightly training sessions for those who have been affected by their own mental health issues.

And Eddy has been overwhelmed by the achievements so far.

“We’ve had so many great guests on the podcast,” said Eddy.

“We’ve had Kelly Holmes, Colin Jackson and several other internationals and Olympians across a range of sports.

“It’s been great and so have the training sessions.

“We’ve had a lot of former players coming along to take training including Steve Tilson, Michael Timlin, Craig Fagan, Mark Phillips and several others which has been brilliant, especially as most of the group support Southend.

“We’ve formed a really close group. Everyone heads off to the pub together after training and we’re always there to support each other whenever anyone might need it.”

Run Free have also featured in two football matches at their Garon Park base as well as a cricket clash with Southend & EMT who they have now formed a close partnership with.

Run Free are also in partnership with Southend United and have very close links with South East and Central Essex Mind who they will be fundraising for again this weekend when holding a five-a-side football tournament.

“We have 20 teams taking part and we can’t wait for it,” said Eddy.

“All the fundraising we’ve done so far has been for our local Mind and Saturday’s tournament should make at least £1,000 for them.

“We have really close links with SECE Mind and since Run Free was formed Chris has become a trustee for them.

“He’s also on their board of directors so we couldn’t be any closer and we’re proud of that association.”

Run Free have more planned fundraising events in the pipeline and are keen to stop people having to suffer in silence.

“So many people struggle with various forms of mental health issues and it’s often those you least expect,” said Chris.

“Anyone is welcome to join us and it honestly doesn’t matter how good you are at football either.

“We certainly don’t take it too seriously and everything is centred about having fun.

“It’s one big support network really and you honestly couldn’t meet a nicer group of people.

“We all do what we can to help each other and long may that continue.”

For more details visit or visit @runfreeofficial on Twitter

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