Register for virtual rally Sunday 21st June midday

Run for freedom

Really looking forward to our post event virtual rally this year instead of the rally outside Meersbrook Hall in the park. But just like outside the hall, linking up with Palestine will be emotional and uplifting, we are sure.

You can register for the zoom here.

We have speakers from Never Stop Dreaming, who help run the Children’s Healing Centre, in Gaza; and speakers from the Run for Freedom in Nablus, Ramallah and Aida refugee camp in the West Bank.

The running order for the zoom is here

Community philosophy – Zoom workshop exploring philosophical concepts relating to Palestine and beyond

For her ‘small park BIG RUN DIY activity’ Kate Halliwell has very kindly offered to run a community philosophy workshop. Read Kate’s invite below and please think about signing up!

“If you would like to explore concepts such as justice, damage, equality, race and human rights come along to my Community Philosophy Zoom session. We’ll share our ideas, beliefs and experiences to delve deeper into various themes relating to Palestine and beyond. Since we are all philosophers at heart, no knowledge of philosophy is needed. Just bring a spoon! Saturday 20th June from 3pm-5pm.

“If you would like to join, please email by midnight 18th June.

A person standing in front of a mirror posing for the camera

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A Library of Life Community Philosophy workshop – June 2020

“I will send you a zoom invite (the day before). Note: Maximum 10 people, first come, first served. Suitable for age 16+

You read more about the community philosophy approach here.


Join the Write to Move zoom –  we invite you to join in a Write to Move online writing workshop. Come and pen your thoughts on the restriction of movement in Palestine and here in the UK. No previous experience required, just a pen and paper. Saturday 20th June at 7-8pm

If you would like to join, please email by midnight 18th June.

the community writing banner from spbr 2019

We will send you a zoom invite (the day before). Note: Maximum 30 people, first come, first served. Suitable for age 16+

CONGRATULATIONS to all the partner runs in Gaza

Runners in Khan Younis

CONGRATULATIONS, solidarity and friendship to all the runners and organisers of the runs in the Gaza Strip – in Khan Younis, Khaza’a, Beit Hanoun and Nussairat.  We here in Sheffield, UK, at Small Park BIG Run, were so proud and happy to run in solidarity with you last weekend.  We appreciate the very difficult circumstances and the challenges you face.  The hot weather is something we didn’t think of, especially as it was cold for summer here, and raining a lot, so it was hard to imagine it being too hot!!  But one of the three West Bank runs, in Ramallah told us they couldn’t run until later in the day on Saturday 15th, as it was too hot.  The rest of the runs (seven in all!) ran with an even greater challenge of the hot weather.  We are sorry – next year you must choose the best time for you!  So many people running here told us how much they loved the idea of running ‘with you’ all – us here in Sheffield and you all in Palestine.  Thank you SO much.

As you probably know our local Member of Parliament, Louise Haigh and our Lord Mayor of Sheffield talked about your runs at our event – we hope you had copies of the Certificate from the Lord Mayor issued for the runners in Palestine, as well as in Sheffield – we can email another copy if you didn’t received it already. 

We will continue to campaign and spread the word about the importance of justice, peace and equality for all Palestinians, and will continue to raise funds for the projects for the play and the healing project for children and for education scholarships for women in Gaza. With all our respect, friendship and solidarity,

Sheffield to Palestine: Together We Run for Justice and Dignity

run for freedom

While we are running round our park in Meersbrook, there will also be people running in Palestine: in Nablus, Ramallah, Bethlehem and in Gaza.
The isolation they are subjected to day to day will often make people feel they are forgotten. By running together we are helping Palestinians feel supported .

We are especially pleased to say that a run will take place at “Al-Istiqlal-Independence Park” in Ramallah on Saturday 15 June 2019, from 17:00 to 18:30 pm.

We expect at least 100 people of all ages – mainly from four camps in the middle of the West Bank, Al-Jalazoun, Qalandia, Al Ama’ri and Birziet refugee camps – to take part.

The head of the Executive Office of the Refugees’ Camps in the West Bank will open the event highlighting our solidarity in Sheffield with Palestinian people.

spbr 2019 – breaking down barriers

Last year and in 2017 we had wonderful community based runs and a generous spirit pervading all aspects of the 24 hours. And during these runs we emphasised with really good effect how things we take for granted, like the right to movement and adequate living space, are not enjoyed by most Palestinians because of the siege of Gaza or occupation of the West Bank.

This year we want to extend this further to explore a dominant theme for Palestinians – separation: from home and homeland, from family and loved ones, from participating as a free person in civic life.

This year we would like to try to decrease this separation and consequent isolation all be it in a small way. This year we especially want to have an inclusive run. This means including all of our community locally as well as reaching to Palestinians 00s of miles away.

So we will be making contact with local groups not involved before and we want to encourage disabled people to take part too. We will be setting aside a couple of time slots where we will make a particular effort to ensure you have the support you need; and, if we can, we will help at other times too.

If you are disabled, we will work with you to see how we can help. Please get in touch

And we will be encouraging runners to reach out and ‘buddy up’ with runners in Nablus and Bethlehem, as well as our long term partners in Khan Younis in Gaza, where there will be simultaneous runs.

In addition we have plans for a climbing wall and an imitation checkpoint to give a flavour of the life Palestinians lead every day.

And of course there will be more poetry, a photo exhibition, lanterns at dusk and lots of music.

Sign up and take part !

Arif Ali is taking it all in his stride

Arif Ali will be running the small park BIG RUN as a member of the big Steel City Striders team that will cover the whole 24 hours in hour slots. Below, Arif tells us about his approach to running, what it’s like to run in Ramadan and sends a message of support to our friends in Palestine.

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Who are you? Please introduce yourself!

Hi, my name is Arif, I was born in London, and moved to Sheffield over 14 years ago, when I came for my first job in Sheffield. I enjoy IT, and my work is also in IT. And obviously I love running

Tell us about your running journey. Why did you start?

When I used to be in London several years ago, up until 2003, I used to run regularly around Wanstead Flats area. We used to do this on approx. twice a week and with the group of people I was running approx. 15 kilometres a week

When I moved to Sheffield in December 2003, first, I got lazy, and secondly, I blamed the hills for not running; so, I got really unfit and put on some weight.

As of January 2017, I re-started running, in the aim for raising monies for Cancer Research UK (CRUK), on the basis of how much the NHS and the Cancer support did for my mother.

This was a very slow process, and very tiresome. I joined the gym, and my first attempt only lasted about 10 mins doing about half a mile. However, I slowly progressed over a few months, and I found that I was able to do about 5K on the treadmill, and within that time I found out about parkrun; so, I decided to take that on in March. I’m proud to say, that my first parkrun time was 34:14.

After a small break of small injuries, I was back on it again in September, especially with my first ever 10K race coming up at the end of September

I discovered the Couch to 5K (C25K) group run by a few Striders, and joined up; this gave me so much, that it helped with my running, with posture and form. There’s much more detail in my blog post about this.

What’s so good about the Steel City Striders? ?

I joined the Steel City Striders (SCS) in September 2017 just before doing the Sheffield 10K. As it’s a big club you have a variety of people with newbies and some people with great experience. I learnt loads from the Facebook group, where I was given great encouragement, advice and support. Further from that, running regularly in the training runs, I have met some great people with great experiences. Just by running with these people, I have learnt loads, and have been able to apply the advice that they have given. This has helped me a lot over the past 6 months, with my running journey.

The Steel City Striders contingent at the Sheffield Half Marathon

Why are you participating in the small park BIG RUN?

I am a runner, and also try to support campaigns where possible for Palestine. This event combined both factors together.

What do you hope it will achieve?

I would hope that it can raise further awareness of the issues in Gaza and the rest of Palestine.

What do you think you will get from participating in the small park BIG RUN.

I would hope to speak to people, and find real life stories on issues in Palestine as well as having some fun at the same time.

Do you have a message for our friends in Gaza?

Stay firm and resolute, our prayers are with you, and hopefully you are able to get freedom that you seek.

What has it been like training for this run during Ramadan?

This was my first year running in Ramadhan, and I was quite nervous and apprehensive. The main reason being was about hydration and tiredness after the runs. I had also signed up for a race, which was being staged 5 days after the start of Ramadhan too. I found a small post from a Muslim football coach who had a few great pointers, I picked on a few of these, and I believe this has helped overall. When I did my initial run I felt good and there were no adverse effects later in the day. You can read more about my experience of the race in my blog.

Overall after this experience, I will have managed to do more miles in the month of Ramadhan. With a week to go I have managed  106 miles, and my record in a Gregorian calendar month is 110 miles. I am expecting to beat that by about 10 miles if everything goes to plan.

So, all in all, it’s been a fantastic month when it’s come to running!

Anything else you’d like to say?

I hope we can raise more money than last year, and we can go beyond that. I hope this is an enjoyable event for everyone, and we can raise awareness of the issues in Palestine.

Many thanks Arif!

Arif’s blog • parkrun  • couch25K • Steel City Striders  • Training and fasting

Louise Haigh MP: An honorable friend of Palestine

“It’s easy to be cynical about trying to change the world, but if I can take part, have fun and help promote and raise funds for such a good cause then it’s worth tiring myself out.”

Louise Haigh has very kindly agreed to open this year’s small park BIG RUN. She will also run the first half hour time slot – no mean feat for a super busy Member of Parliament.  We asked her about her views on justice for Palestinians and what her thoughts are on the upcoming run – read what she said below.

Louise Haigh (left) at 2017 small park big run

What is the single most important thing that needs to be done to achieve justice in Palestine?

I was in Palestine in February this year and just a couple of weeks ago I secured a debate in Parliament on the humanitarian situation in Gaza.  I don’t think anyone could say that there is one, single thing that will bring justice to the Palestinian people so in no particular order I think recognition, arms control and properly recognising trade with the illegal settlements as illegal are steps we can immediately take to set us on the road to justice but only a sovereign Palestinian state, I believe, will see justice delivered.

Why are you running?

Supporting the ambitions and life chances of young women and girls who are living in unimaginably tough circumstances is really important to me. We have so many freedoms and opportunities in this country compared to young people growing up in Palestine, and events like this can be a great way to help make life easier for those who don’t.

It’s easy to be cynical about trying to change the world but if I can take part, have fun and help promote and raise funds for such a good cause then it’s worth tiring myself out.

How did you enjoy the event last year and why?

Last year’s run took place right after the General Election – so by comparison it was fairly relaxing. The turnout and enthusiasm of the people there was really encouraging and I’m hoping the weather this summer can coax even more people out for the occasion.

How many laps will you do this time?

I can’t remember how many I did last year, it was only a couple of days after the most exhausting election campaign I’ve ever known so I walked around it pretty leisurely with Julie Pearn and chatted the whole way round. I’ll say four and hope I can bust expectations.

Who will run the fastest lap, you or Magid Magid?

I’ll do my best but I’d imagine it’ll be Magid – I’ve recently taken up boxing and football again so I’m built for strength rather than than speed!

Thanks Louise!

For AFC Unity, pre-season training starts at the small park BIG RUN

“I’m honoured to be involved with and coach such a fantastic group of women, who have done so much for the community, and if by taking part in small park BIG RUN they can also help support other women in Palestine then that’s even better!” says Jay Baker, of AFC Unity.

Jay tells us more below about AFC Unity and why they are relishing the challenge of taking part in the small park BIG RUN in Meersbrook Park, Sheffield, on 16/17 June.

“AFC Unity is a social enterprise and one of the very few independent women’s football clubs around.  It fields an 11-a-side first team playing in the Sheffield & Hallamshire Women’s County Football League.

“The club runs introductory sessions called Solidarity Soccer created for women wanting to get involved in the sport, and several community campaigns from being one of the very first football clubs to support food banks with matchday donation drives, to offering discounts for trade union members and promoting trade unionism, to maintaining a commitment to only using certified fairtrade footballs in training sessions and home games.

“AFC Unity was  also a key host on the Sheffield stop of last year’s UK tour of the Diyar women’s football team from Bethlehem, with a tournament at the U-Mix Centre which raised awareness of the plight of Palestine not just in Sheffield, but amongst the AFC Unity players themselves, who were moved to try and do more for the Palestinian cause.  [Diyar opened and then participated in small park BIG RUN 2017!, Ed]

“Taking part in small park BIG RUN is just one of the things AFC Unity has chosen to do, with several first team players relishing the challenge of running together in small park BIG RUN at the start of their pre-season schedule!

“AFC Unity co-founders Jay Baker and Jane Watkinson may not be doing much more than walking due to injuries, but are hoping AFC Unity players will continue to set the bar higher for football teams utilising the sport for positive social change.

“‘As a player myself,’ explains Jane, ‘I feel pride in playing for a team that extends its sense of teamwork and collectivism beyond the football pitch, and small park BIG RUN is a worthy and important part of that.’

“Adds Jay: ‘I’m honoured to be involved with and coach such a fantastic group of women, who have done so much for the community, and if by taking part in small park BIG RUN they can also help support other women in Palestine then that’s even better!'”

Thanks so much to AFC Unity for your support! For more information  visit their website.

To sign up to the run yourselves click here.