19 Apr 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.”