A DISABLED refugee is hoping to run in the 2020 Paralympics and help boost a Swindon charity’s coffers.

Omer Homer, who arrived in Swindon from Iran in October 2015, said that running has changed his life – and it is all thanks to the Harbour Project.

The 28-year-old is now preparing for the 2019 Swindon Half Marathon in September. He aims to raise £1,600 for Harbour to help the charity keep its drop-in facility open.

He said: “Before I start running, I was so bored, and I didn’t know anyone in Swindon. I knew only some people from the Harbour.

“I was drinking too much alcohol and smoking cigarettes but running has changed my life. I stopped smoking and I only drink on special occasions.”

Omer was encouraged to join the charity’s running group in 2017 and it helped him discover a new passion.

He added: “I’m focusing on running and I’m getting better and better.

“I want to take part in the 2020 Paralympics.

“I don’t know yet if I can do it because I don’t have a British passport but that is my dream.”

In the 2016 Paralympics, there was an Independent team made up of refugees and asylum seekers and Omer hopes to join it in 2020.

But his main goal is to support the charity that helped him found his place in Swindon.

He said: “I have been going to the Harbour Project for four years and they helped me a lot. They helped with papers, solicitors and English.

“I really want to give something back to the Harbour because they helped so many people.

“I started doing a couple of races and a few 10kms.

“This year will be my third time doing the half marathon for Harbour Project.”

Omer has been training hard with his personal coach to beat his personal record of 1hr 18mins.

“I’m currently running every day to get ready. I’m training very hard.”

The Harbour Project was founded in May 2000 to provide emergency help, friendship, food and clothing for Swindon refugees and asylum seekers. More than 450 visitors are using the facilities or going to classes and activities.

Harbour Project intern Mia O’Sullivan said: “We have our drop-in facility, which is where we get help and advice sessions, so we have volunteers who come in.

“We would help with any practical problems, housing and employment. It really is so broad but then we also have our lessons, such as English


“We feel so grateful. Omer goal is £1,600 and that is the average cost to keep the drop-in facility going. He’s very determined and focused on his passion for running.”

Omer has already raise £230 on his online to donate visit localgiving.org/fundraising/omerhalfmarathon/