Podcast Episode: Walking towards better health
What follows is a transcription of the audio recording. Due to differences between spoken and written English, the transcript may contain quirks of grammar and syntax.
MM - Michael McEwan
EG - Emma Goodlad
So we are here today with Emma Goodlad from the Walking Towards Better Health project from the ALLIANCE Scotland. Now, Emma, can you first tell us what is this project all about?
EG Well, Walking Towards Better Health was set up to really, it’s a partnership programme between Paths For All and Health and Social Care ALLIANCE Scotland, and it’s really all about trying to encourage people who are living with long term conditions to become more active through walking, because it’s the most accessible form of physical activity and it’s got so many benefits come from it, so that was really, the whole premise of it was really just to think of a really simple way to try and encourage people living with any long term condition to become more active.
MM So there’s a 3 year partnership, can you tell us a bit more about that?
EG As I said, it’s with Paths For All, who are kind of the national charity who promotes walking across Scotland, encourages people across the country to become more active through walking and they do lots of different work with people across Scotland, doing lots of different things, simply from things like health walking groups, so a health walk is kind of a walk that’s anywhere between kind of 5 to 10 minutes right up to an hour, and they do lots of other things like path maintenance as well, so they have got a whole range of work. So we came on board with them to really target people with long term conditions because that was a gap that was there. A few years ago they were saying that they weren’t really reaching that many people with long term conditions and wanted to look at how we could do that, so that’s how the partnership came about, and it’s been quite good so far, we have done quite a bit of work over the last few years and we’ve managed to reach quite a few people and it’s been quite a good learning because we found that actually trying to encourage people with long term conditions to walk can be slightly different because it depends on their condition, every single group and every single person is different, so the way we work with that is slightly different to the kind of normal set up that Paths For All has, so that’s been really interesting and really it has been about just trying to encourage each group to do whatever works for them and whatever long term condition they are working with or what they are supporting, who they are supporting.
MM So where does your funding come from for this project?
EG So that comes from Paths For All. They, as I mentioned there, are the kind of national project and charity that promotes walking, they get their … I think their core funding comes from the government, so a portion of that has come to us to be able to run walking towards better health and reach people with long term conditions.
MM So basically this project has been going for a few years, have you been getting good feedback on this project and how many people have you got walking?
EG We have had some really good feedback and we have done a lot of work, all of our work really has been based around working with the people with long term conditions and them taking the lead on however they want to get involved in walking, so we have been running for 2 ½ years now, so we are just almost at the end, but it’s been really great, we have reached over a hundred people now, right across different areas of Scotland, so we have now got people that are linked to our project up in Orkney, and we have also got people out in Rothesay, we have got people across in East Lothian, we have got quite a few groups across different parts of Scotland, so it’s been great, because we have tried to look at … not just people in the central belt of Scotland, who are easier to reach in terms of us getting out to speak to them, but also trying to look at what works in rural areas as well, like in Orkney. So it’s been quite a learning curve in trying to find what works for each area and each group of people as well, but I think we have been quite successful and we have still got more people joining because we have still got a couple of new groups that are just getting going as well, so hopefully we will have reached kind of a hundred and fifty to two hundred people by the end of the project.
MM And do you go out and meet the people before they sign up?
EG Yes, really our role is, we work with other organisations as well, because what we see is, we are there to promote this and we can provide a little bit of funding, although that’s now coming to an end, but we have been able to provide funding to organisations for them to then promote it, because what we understand is that actually it’s much better for us to be able to give that money to another organisation, for example we have given Arthritis Care a small portion of the money so that they can then run a walking activity in their local area with people with arthritis, and with other long term conditions as well, they have opened that out to anybody with long term conditions, but it makes more sense for those organisations to take that on board in their … whatever area they are doing that, because realistically we are a very small project and I am the main project worker on that, so I can’t get out to meet everybody, unfortunately, but we do try and I have been out to meet the majority of the groups and just get a chance to go along and have a chat to the people that are taking part in it, so that’s a really nice part of the job in getting to do that and getting to have a chat with them, but part of the role as well is going out and speaking to different groups and promoting walking and explaining why walking is kind of the best form of exercise, the most accessible, and trying to kind of change peoples views on that as well, because a lot of people, not everyone obviously, but you do get some people who go … well, you know, some people have a long term condition and they can’t walk and it’s not about that, it’s about the mental wellbeing side of it as well, the improvements it can have to that, so even if you have got wheelchairs, can join in and get those benefits of being out and about, the social aspect of it as well, it’ s not just about being more active, although that is a part of it, the main feedback that we get back from people is actually … we don’t generally get people saying, oh well I am much fitter, we get more people saying, well actually I feel much better in myself for it and I feel I can get out and about more, I have got more social interaction with people, and that’s the kind of main benefits we hear about. Obviously we do get people talking about they are more active now, but the main majority we do hear is more about kind of the opportunities it’s brought in terms of mental wellbeing and the social aspects of life as well, so it’s great.
MM That’s good … so what’s next for the project?
EG Well we are just about coming to the end of the project unfortunately, we have got another couple of months on it, so we are going to be continuing to support the groups that we have already got there, trying to encourage them to look at kind of sustainability past the point of the project comes to completion, but we are looking at what can they do to continue that without our support, looking at kind of … do the volunteer walk leaders that run the groups, do they need any additional training, do they need some support in terms of promoting their walking groups and trying to reach more people … it’s going to be one of the kind of key aspects over the next couple of months, so that we feel comfortable that our support is no longer there or it might be in a different way that they can still continue to do that, that this learning is not going to be lost and the groups aren’t going to fall away. We are also going to be doing some work in terms of supporting some groups within GP practices as well, to see if having that support there, we are working closely with the Links Worker programme that’s based here at the ALLIANCE, and looking at if there’s a Links Worker there that can signpost people onto the groups, and if they are part of that group as well, if that encourages more people to join in and reach some people that we’ve possibly not been able to reach previously. So that’s all going to be going on, and then we are hoping to run a kind of final celebration event at the end of September as part of Self Management Week, so that we can promote and celebrate the work that’s half of the learning that we have had from the project and being able to celebrate the volunteers as well, because volunteers have been such a key part of this, because they are the ones who run the group on a weekly, monthly, whatever it is kind of basis, they are the ones that really push that forward and promote it, so it really wouldn’t be possible without those volunteers being there, so we really want to say thank you to them, and really just celebrate all the great work that’s gone on and be able to promote that bit as well, so, yes … and we are hoping to look at … within the ALLIANCE, securing some funding to have a project of a similar sort somewhere down the line, because we feel that we are in a really good position that we have the ability to kind of reach different organisations, reach individuals who are living with long term conditions and be able to continue to promote that and encourage them to walk and become more active. As part of that as well, we have also produced a Strength and Balance leaflet, a guide to try and encourage people who maybe aren’t at the point that they feel ready to walk, but they are still wanting to be active in some way or for people who’s conditions have possibly flared up and they are struggling to walk any distance, that they can continue to be physically active in one way or another. So yes, so there is still going to be quite a lot going on over the next few months, so it is all quite exciting and hopefully Walking Towards Better Health will still exist in some form in the future, but that’s still to be seen at this point.
MM So people listening to this and they want to get involved, how do they get involved, have you got email, Facebook or …?
EG Yes, the best way really to do it is … we have got our own portion of the ALLIANCE website, so if you go to the project page of Walking Towards Better Health, you can see all the different walking groups that we have been involved with promoting and setting up, so having a look to see if there is one in your area that you are looking for, and there’s a kind of key contact on there for each group is the best way to get involved with one of the groups, otherwise people can get in touch with myself at the ALLIANCE, to find out if there is any other way that they can get involved within the next couple of months, whether they are looking to volunteer with one of the groups or just interested in what the project is doing, so my email is email@example.com. We do have a Facebook page, although it’s linked to the ALLIANCE page, so if you find the ALLIANCE page, there is a Facebook for Walking Towards Better Health within there, we have also got a Twitter page as well, which you can link to us through, and that’s ALLIANCEWTBH.
MM Okay, that’s lovely, thanks Emma.
EG Thank you Michael.
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