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Helping homeless women through running

539. Nicola Miller

A communications director from London has helped to improve the lives of hundreds of women affected by homelessness.

Nicola Miller, 37, founded A Mile in Her Shoes to encourage women across London with experiences of homelessness to try running as a way of exercising, socialising, building confidence and boosting self-esteem.

The charity partners with homeless organisations to enable up to 12 groups to host running activities every week in the capital city. A Mile in Her Shoes provides donated running kit and healthy snacks to support the women on their runs.

In 2012, Nicola volunteered at a Crisis centre supporting people affected by homelessness over the Christmas period and came away wanting to do more volunteering. Nicola knew first-hand the benefits of running, including making new friends, feeling part of a community and building up her confidence and self esteem. She wanted to share these experiences with vulnerable women and the A Mile in Her Shoes concept was born. Nicola was overwhelmed with the positive response she received from focus groups showing the great need to provide homeless women with a form of exercise that worked for them.

The 12 A Mile in Her Shoes groups around London all have the support of a qualified running instructor. The charity has partnered with other homeless organisations including Crisis, St Mungo’s, Thames Reach and The Marylebone Project, and has also been supported by New Balance to provide women with top of the range performance footwear.

Nicola said:

“It’s a huge honour to have been named a Point of Light. Volunteers remain at the heart of A Mile in Her Shoes, which is a very small charity that employs no staff, and it would be nowhere without them. They play a crucial role; giving up their time to do everything from lead running group sessions to sitting on our Board, so I really see this Point of Light Award as something that I share with each and every one of those volunteers who enable us to help women affected by homelessness feel good about themselves.”

Prime Minister David Cameron said:

“Nicola has turned her passion for running into a powerful project helping women affected by homelessness in our capital city. Her bright idea has enabled vulnerable women across London to find support and grow in confidence whilst improving their health. I’m delighted to recognise Nicola as a Point of Light, for outstanding service that is making a real difference in her community.”

The daily Points of Light award recognises outstanding individual volunteers - people who are making a change in their community.

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