From education to employment

No challenge too great for City and Islington College teacher

English and Media teacher Beck Morris talks mental health ahead of her London Marathon.

At the time of interview, Head of Media Studies Beck Morris is nine weeks into preparing for the famed London Marathon at the end of April. She’s already feeling the burn. “I’m beginning to realise that being in constant pain from muscles and joints I didn’t know I had, is the ‘norm’,” she tells me.

“I can no longer get up from the floor or a chair without emitting a weird groaning noise (I feel sorry for Neville who I share an office with).” But she seems confident, prepared: “I think there will be a sense of achievement when I’ve done it, as I will be in the 1% of the UK population to have successfully run a marathon.”

Beck has been with City and Islington College for the last 17 years. She’s been head of Media Studies for the last 12, and found her way into running three years ago: “I started running in May 2016 – before that I’d not run more than about 20 metres since I was in school!”

We talk about her chosen charity – the Mental Health Foundation – and Beck explains the rationale: “[the focus on prevention] resonates with me and the way we deliver discussions around mental health conditions in our tutorials at City and Islington College.

“I’ve specifically chosen the Mental Health Foundation because of their history of putting effort into research, particularly around identifying and targeting vulnerable groups in society.”

She continues: “My real motivation is George, my husband, and Katy & Erica my two best friends. George was diagnosed with severe anxiety and depression nearly 5 years ago.  Right from the start he was really honest and open with everyone about what was going on, and as a result of this has encouraged others to talk about their mental health conditions.  Our local pub has inadvertently become a place for men in our local community to discuss their mental health conditions as a result.”

Beck tells me she’s currently putting in 35, 40 hours a week into training — and that’s just the running. “My life is just one long boring cycle of working, marking, running, eating and sometimes sleeping if I’m lucky. I run the three miles from Marylebone station to work a couple of times a week in the morning to get in extra miles.

“Marathon training completely takes over your every thought. Everything I do has to be planned around it. It’s a huge commitment.

Oh my God.” she concludes. “What am I doing?!”

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