Running program aims to help WA homeless put first foot forward

Running program aims to help WA homeless put first foot forward

Life has not always been easy for Ian, a former truck driver who counts himself among the homeless community.

15 years ago, he found himself entering a downward spiral which left him closer to sleeping on the streets than he ever thought possible.

While Ian’s marriage was breaking down around him, the father-of-three was involved in a trucking accident.

“I was lucky to escape with my life,” he said.

“I wasn’t physically hurt at all. But through the accident I sort of lost focus on my life, and ended up attempting suicide a number of times,” he said.

Eventually diagnosed with severe depression, Ian tried to start a new life in the US, only for the death of his then-girlfriend to send him back to a dark place.

By the start of 2015, he found himself back in Australia with just $200 to his name.

“That’s how I fell into the homeless system,” he said.

Forced to seek help at a homeless shelter in East Perth, he found an unlikely saviour in a bid to get his life back on track – running.

From homelessness to the Melbourne marathon

Ian joined a running group called On My Feet, a WA program which is working to combat the nation’s rising homeless population by getting people exercising.

Groups meet three nights a week for half-an-hour, and people who prove they can show up to each session are given employment and education opportunities.

Perth entrepreneur and avid runner Keegan Crage started the non-profit program last March, to give people in the homeless community the opportunity to join a running group.

“I would run past homeless people and wonder to myself, if I could feel this good when I ran why couldn’t they?” Mr Crage said.

“Truth is they can, and all they needed was a pair of shoes.”