Three people walking with backpacks

Walking Works is Living Streets' programme for embedding the culture of walking into workplaces. The programme starts with a consultation to find out the unique needs of your organisation and from there, our expert staff advise on a range of suitable initiatives and associated costs, to increase walking rates amongst staff.

Here, Grace Barrett, Environment Coordinator from Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust, tells us about her experience of working with Living Streets to deliver the Walking Works programme at Huddersfield Royal Infirmary.

Grace Barrett

Hospitals have a duty of care and staff well-being is paramount. Living Streets' Walking Works provides an easy-to-follow campaign to engage staff and promote active travel in a fun and inclusive way.

The Walking Works Campaign highlights the importance of incorporating some physical activity into the working day, and just how easy it can be. The campaign materials are engaging and have hopefully encouraged our colleagues to consider increasing their daily step count for transport and exercise. Walking Works targets a number of our objectives at Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust (CHFT), as promoting active travel is crucial for staff well-being and reducing our emissions as a result of staff travel.

“Do it! Increasing daily activity has so many benefits, from feeling physically fitter to boosting mood and spending more time away from your desk.”

Grace Barrett, Environment Coordinator

Ultimately, if we are to meet our net zero goals, we need to see a major culture shift towards active and public transport and away from single occupancy vehicles. The pandemic has shown us that reducing emissions by a dramatic amount is possible, if we significantly reduce cars on our roads. At CHFT, we will continue to encourage active travel for those who are able, and seek to make this the most attractive option for colleagues who live locally and where circumstances allow. The mental and physical benefits of walking cannot be ignored either, and so this is also crucial to ensure we maintain a healthy workforce.

At CHFT, we tied the Walking Works Campaign in with our wider Trust well-being messages. Even as the rest of the UK has removed most Covid restrictions, it is important to consider that as an NHS trust we have many restrictions still in place, and therefore encouraging social walking was a bit more difficult.

Two women walking together

“I am impressed with the professional look and feel of the campaign, especially the walking maps created by Charli at Living Streets which have proven popular at our hospital sites."

Grace Barrett, Environment Coordinator

It is also important to consider that walking is already in the nature of a lot of roles in our workplace, especially on the busy wards and out in the community, and so some of our staff will already walk upwards of the daily recommended step count in one shift. This sometimes creates a challenge to promoting walking for transport, as we do not want to come across as patronising or ‘preachy’ to staff who have already physically and mentally demanding jobs.

Following conversations with colleagues, I am able to report that multiple staff found that, during ‘lockdowns’ especially, they walked for exercise and/or leisure more than they would have in ‘normal’ circumstances. This is for a number of reasons, from having more free time, to feeling almost a ‘wake-up call’ to be healthier and boost their fitness as a result of the situation brought about by Covid-19.

People walking outside near grass

I hope that, as a result of the Walking Works Campaign, our staff feel encouraged to keep up the good habits they picked up during ‘lockdowns’, such as incorporating daily walks into their schedule, especially as the weather starts to improve and evenings get longer in the coming months. Walking Works has been a beneficial tool to help us promote active travel from both a well-being and a sustainability perspective. I hope that, as staff have engaged with the campaign, they have felt motivated and have considered the benefits of walking for both personal and planetary health post-Covid.

Instilling a culture of walking as a method of travel is key to boosting physical and mental health for colleagues and reducing emissions as a result of staff travel. Walking Works provided an excellent package of communications and engagement to promote walking across the Trust for both transport and exercise, and tied in well with our wider well-being messages.

Person walking along path through park