VHI and parkrun’s Cultural Fit

VHI and parkrun is a partnership based on culture to a deeper level than the vast majority of commercial sponsorships.

When we sat down to talk through the benefits of the association with VHI Director of Marketing and Business Development Declan Moran (pictured above) that was the one word that kept coming through.

“Healthcare today is about much more than paying the bills when you fall sick,” said Moran. “It’s as much about encouraging a healthy lifestyle and prevention of conditions.”

“When we get involved in a partnership it has to be about getting people moving and making it easy for them to get involved in activities they will enjoy and that will benefit their health and wellbeing.”

VHI were involved as sponsors of the GAA Cúl Camps from 2006 to 2011, getting 100,000 children a year out and about playing and learning about how to eat and play better on GAA grounds across the country.

In 2014 they took on naming rights sponsorship of the VHI Women’s Mini Marathon, the largest women’s only mass participation event in the world.

They were watching the development of parkrun at the same time and slowly began to see that this could be a really good fit.

“I was walking the dogs in St Anne’s Park one Saturday morning and over the horizon came this group of runners of all ages and traveling at all speeds,” continued Moran.

“There was a real sense of community about the organisation and the more we looked the more it seemed like a natural cultural fit between the two organisations.”

“We are both not for profit organisations and that was an important shared bond on both sides.”

“We became their first Presenting Partner on a global basis and that was because of how we both saw this partnership as being not only for a common but also for a  community good.”

In 2016 the partnership was unveiled and it has delivered in 2017 through expanding the number of parkruns taking place from 55 to 81 and the development of other initiatives off the back of it.

“We wanted to help create a movement that would be sustainable and keep on delivering in the longer term.”

“parkrun for Kids was part of that and we also targeted a number of special events where we would put a real energy and emphasis on getting people involved and keeping them coming back.”

“We brought our own running ambassadors David Gillick and Mick Clohissey on board and promoted the events locally to encourage more people to stop thinking about it and get their running gear out on a Saturday morning.”

“The results have been great with bigger numbers turning up on the big days, enjoying the festival nature of it, the stars and having physios and other services on hand, but then coming back week after week as well.”

The next stage of development came out of a conversation with the corporate business development team and an idea to help corporate customers encourage individuals to get healthier as part of their workplace community.

“There was clear evidence that a healthy body would be better in work, with benefits from greater positivity and productivity.”

“Across the world, high performing organisations are creating great programmes of physical activity, and not in a competitive way other than against your previous self.”

“Our teams spoke to organisations including Google and Dropbox and we started off this year with a group of around 40 individuals from across those companies who came together at Shelbourne Park Greyhound Stadium for a programme that would help non-runners get started, and those who were running to get better.”

“The key was about setting personal targets and our coaches and stars helping to keep them on track.”

“We’ve had our first groups out running in the past few weeks and its an initiative that has really worked.”

“It differentiates VHI as a Health service provider and it creates a sense of real willingness on the part of individuals to take control of their own wellbeing.”

“That’s a winner in every sense.”

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