The future of GoodGym's work with older people

What's next for GoodGym coach runs and missions

May 28, 2019

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GoodGym founder, Ivo Gormley recently set our ambitions to connect as many runners as possible with older people in their community. Our community has grown rapidly over the last few years and our potential has never been greater, and we’ve been reflecting on how we unlock this potential in a way that is both sustainable and makes the biggest positive difference possible.

Working in partnership

In every area we operate, having strong relationships with local partners who are already supporting older people in the community is vital. All our partners are doing awesome work but there is always more that they wish they could be doing - this is where we come in. When we’re going on a mission, or visiting our coaches, we’re as much helping vital local projects fulfill their social objectives as we are the older people we encounter.

To put it simply, without our partners, we’d be all dressed up (in red t-shirts) with nowhere to go. With this in mind, we want to develop what we do around the needs and ambitions of these partners.

Developing the website

With the help of runners, referrers and older people, we have recently made lots of improvements to the website with three main aims in mind; GoodGym runners can show clearly when and where they most want to help older people in their area; Our local delivery partners can let us know clearly when and where older people they are working with need help; The website connects the two as quickly and efficiently as possible.

What this means for missions

In a nutshell, more missions! The tech and process changes we are making will enable us to carry out more missions over the next few months. Feedback from referrers and runners about the new process has already been positive.

Two GoodGym runners helping to move a sofa for an older isolated person on a mission

The next big change will be to stop accepting self-referrals (referrals from members of the public). From the end of May we will be unable to accept self-referrals and will require any task requests to come via a partner organisation and through the GoodGym website. Coach runners will still be able to make requests for their coaches while they are matched.

What we have found is that quite often older people are calling the office after being sign-posted to GoodGym by a local partner. Not only would it be quicker and easier if our partners made a request through our website, but also it would be better for the older person needing a bit of help as they usually need to give us the same information that they have given to our partners. With less time duplicating conversations, we can spend more time getting people mission verified and making the missions themselves happen!

What this means for coach runs

There are also changes planned for coach runs (one-to-one weekly social visits to an isolated older person by a GoodGym runner). We have heard from our partners that being able to view runners as being both a part of GoodGym and their organisation would make matching them with older people more effective.

The vision is that coach runs would be a real partnership approach, with GoodGym focusing on verifying runners, retaining their experience of being a GoodGym coach runner but allowing our partner to do what they to best, match up and support coach runs relationships.

Coach Michael and runner Katie from GoodGym York

We think this will prevent situations in areas where there are runners waiting for long periods to be matched up while older people also wait on our partner’s waiting lists. Through co-delivery, great local projects will be better supported and we can reach more older people working together.

The focus will be on retaining all things that make GoodGym coach runs great and unique. We will be seeking coach runners feedback and input on how to make this happen over the next few weeks and months. This feedback will go into developing the website to make this process as smooth as possible.

To kick things off we are running a small pilot over the next 6 weeks with one of our current referral partners, Bishop Creighton House, in Hammersmith and Fulham and we will be contacting runners waiting in this area shortly to see if they would like to take part.

What you can do

First off, keep getting coach and mission verified! As we develop and strengthen our delivery partner relationships, we’ll find more and more for us to do so the more members who can get involved with missions and coach runners the better.

Secondly, be patient with us. We’re making lots of changes that we know will make being involved in GoodGym better, but some of these changes will take time to bed in (and sometimes we’ll get things wrong). For example, we may see a drop in missions in some areas during the short term as we give referrers time to adapt to the new system. It can also take time to develop partner relationships in some of our areas where it didn’t quite click first time round. We’re working on it!

Lastly, keep talking to us. Everything we’ve described above isn’t just coming from our desire to do more, but from your desire to do more as well. Every bit of feedback, insight, advice, praise and criticism helps us to make the experience better for everyone involved, and ultimately change the lives of more and more people in our communities.

Get involved

Have your own GoodGym story to share with the community? Email and we'll be in touch.
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