Fundraiser Stories: Bath & the Half give mental health boost to young runner

RUH Administrator Jess Sowton, 25, is running the Bath Half this year in aid of the Carers’ Centre. This is Jess’s second half marathon and she hopes to get close to a two hour run this time around. There’s still time to join Team Carers in this year’s Bath Half — sign up here!

Originally from Hampshire, Jess moved to Bath last year after struggling with her mental health and deciding to step out of her comfort zone.

“I realised that I wasn’t happy with where I was in life — I didn’t really know what I wanted from the future, my mental health was suffering, and I knew I wasn’t challenging myself and felt unsatisfied with everything,” says Jess.

Recent research (the Guardian) shows that more than one in four women aged 16-24 now report symptoms of common mental health conditions like depression and anxiety – a rise from 21% when the study was last carried out in 2007.

Jess felt an improvement in herself after the move.

“I moved out of my flat, left my job, and moved to a new city — enter Bath! I got myself a job and things just fell into place. It was a challenge in terms of pushing myself into so many new environments.

“I am lucky to have family and friends to support me, but by making myself face the fact that I needed to change my situation has made me so much more confident. I want to keep challenging myself to seek the best that I can get out of life.”

As well as uprooting her life, Jess found that exercise really helped her lift her mood and feel fitter and healthier.

“I’ve only recently become a dedicated runner. This time last year, I was fed up at how unfit I felt, and how low my mood was in general, so I decided to give the Couch to 5k program a try. I felt so good after running that it just stuck, and now I’m happily plodding along much longer courses!

“At the moment, I run about three times a week (shorter runs during the week, and a long one on the weekends), and I’m also going to my gym about two to three times a week. I want to be as fit as I can for the big day, so that I get the best I can out of it!”

Jess chose to support the Carers’ Centre after she learned about its work and from her own experience meeting carers at the RUH.

“I see every day how dedicated a family member or friend can be to someone who needs care, from taking them to their appointments, to keeping track of their medications, and simply being there for them – it’s a huge emotional and physical undertaking.

“A few friends I know are carers themselves, and I know the strain it can put on someone. I really believe there should be more support for carers, and the Carers’ Centre provides much needed relief for carers, whether that’s with away days, events, counselling, or advice, and I want to contribute to all the hard work the charity does.”

As for the big day, Jess loves the atmosphere of a busy event as well as treating herself after the run.

“I love the sense of just trekking towards a goal with so many people from so many backgrounds, who each have their own stories and reasons for running; it’s such a wonderful feeling of camaraderie. I’m also super excited to eat a giant amount of pasta after the race!”

The Carers’ Centre has a team of runners taking part on the day to support the charity.

Carers’ Centre Communications Manager, Emma Tucker, says:

“The Bath Half is a wonderful opportunity for the Carers’ Centre to raise funds and get involved with our community. We are looking forward to cheering everyone on from our Cheer Station on Lower Bristol Road. We’ll be there with jelly beans and encouragement!”

The Carers’ Centre are keen to fill all their places and there are still a few spots left. There’s still time to sign up, which you can do by clicking here. Registrations close February 7th 2019.

To support Jess and the Carers’ Centre, visit Just Giving here: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/jess-sowton