Members of a Fife running club are facing an uphill struggle after Scottish Government funding for the project was cut.
Ian Shield, a member of the JogScotland club in Leven, said Holyrood’s decision to cut its contribution to the scheme was a backwards step in the fight to improve the nation’s physical and mental health.
Administered by Scottish Athletics, the government said that it did not provide direct funding for the JogScotland initiative and that it remained committed to investing in physical health.
However, Mr Shield, 57, said the news was a huge blow but vowed the group would continue.
“I’m very disappointed in the Scottish Government for not recognising what a success JogScotland has been and they don’t seem to recognise the contribution to people’s health and welfare it has made.
“It has helped people with their self-confidence.
“We have had people in their forties that may have played football when they were younger, lost their confidence and come to us.
“They have got their confidence back and gone on to try other things, so it’s not just about running.”
Launched in 2002, JogScotland was established with the aim of encouraging people of all fitness abilities back into a healthier lifestyle through jogging. More than 300 clubs exist throughout the country, with around 40,000 listed members.
The Leven group, “Leven Las Vegas”, was founded five years ago and meets at the local leisure centre every Tuesday evening.
Around 40 members gather before heading out on a social jog or walk together.
Explaining that efforts had been made to make JogScotland more commercially viable, a Scottish Government spokesman said: “In 2016/17, SportScotland provided Scottish Athletics with £65,000 to create a digital pilot system to demonstrate the impact which the JogScotland programme is having, and to use this to generate commercial income.
“An additional £50,000 was provided by sportscotland to further support the transition of the JogScotland programme to a more sustainable model.
“In terms of the budget allocations for 2017/18, Scottish Athletics will discuss with sportscotland how they plan to carry forward their strategic plan and their priorities for the forthcoming year.”