Homelessness Week 2018: How running set Ian back on track

Ian Brown.
Ian Brown.

IAN Brown found his saviour from homelessness in a pair of running shoes.

In 2015, the 56-year-old had just moved back to Perth after living in the US for several years.

After several weeks of couch surfing and backpackers accommodation, he found himself in crisis accommodation at St Bartholomew’s House.

It was while there that Ian met Keegan Crage, the chairman and founder of On My Feet, an organisation which uses running groups to improve mental and physical health and cultivate social connections.

The next day Ian started running and on his first attempt completed a 3km run.

“The first night I was very worn out. I was in my 50s and didn’t have any running experience,” he said.

From there Ian ran three times a week with the group and every night for himself.

He has since completed five marathons and several half-marathons.

“Next month is our three-year anniversary of the Perth chapter and I’ll celebrate over 6000km of running,” he said.

“Running and On My Feet changed my life. I was struggling with mental health issues when I met Keegan and I didn’t know what was going to happen to me or if I would find a job or housing.”

Through On My Feet, Ian got work experience with Food Rescue and eventually a paid job with Second Bite, where he still works today.

He secured independent housing and changed his life.

Now 59, Ian is the ambassador for On My Feet for Australia and South Africa and is also the coordinator for the Perth chapter, managing all training sessions.

He said On My Feet gave him the love, support and self-belief he needed.

“I never would believe that I would be taking part in marathons if you’d asked me a few years ago,” he said.