Team Fostering is an ethical not for profit fostering agency with a strong reputation and track record for providing high quality, value for money fostering placements for looked after children in the North East, Yorkshire & East Midlands, based on Orion Business Park, North Shields. We have been successfully supporting children & young people living in foster care to achieve positive outcomes since 2001.

We are committed to developing and promoting a healthy workplace, which can bring benefits to both our employees and the wider agency including decreased absenteeism, increased productivity and improved performance.  We are constantly looking at ways in which to promote employee health (physical and mental) and well-being, get involved in health promotion initiatives, talk to employees about health issues, and provide support and guidance about maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

With the support of Maureen Turner – workplace health improvement specialist at Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, who supports businesses in North Tyneside to achieve the award – we successfully achieved our bronze level Better Health at Work Award in 2019.   We are now going for silver!    On an annual basis, our Health, Safety & Wellbeing Representatives design a range of health promotion initiatives to raise awareness of health and lifestyle issues affecting mental health and wellbeing.   Our initiatives specifically respond to identified employee health needs and support national health campaigns.

As part of our response to requests from staff for more physical exercise information and activities, as HSW Reps we were planning a more comprehensive campaign to support National Walking Month in May but had to condense our campaign in light of the coronavirus pandemic and restrictions imposed by the national lockdown.

Due to staff working from home during the campaign period, all information, tools and resources were placed on our Health, Safety and Wellbeing campaign area on our staff intranet.   We had a range of fun, yet informative Info Bites and Tools for staff to read and use including:-

  • 10 Weird Things Walking does to your Body
  • 11 Free Walking Apps
  • Walking Fun Facts
  • 20 Benefits of Walking
  • Scientific Facts about walking and wellbeing

The star of our campaign was our Bingo Walking ChallengeThis was developed to encourage staff to make use of their one daily exercise activity, making it more fun and enjoyable whilst catering to all levels of fitness.    92% of staff found the challenge very useful in motivating them to get out and about during lockdown. “The bingo walking challenge was really good fun and as I am walking more I was able to use some of the useful tips and challenges to build in to my walks”.  Friends and family were also invited to play our walking bingo.   83% of staff have passed on information or tools from the campaign to friends or family.

The bingo card included 25 squares to be crossed out as you achieved various challenges including links made to our info bites on our intranet to encourage individuals to read up more about the health and wellbeing benefits of walking.  Staff were also encouraged to sign up to a free walking app and increase their daily steps.

Physical bingo challenges included:

  • Jogging in place at every stop sign
  • 50 lunges while you walked
  • Walking 1 flight of stairs (10x today)
  • A minimum 30 min walk each day after work for a week

We wanted there to be mental wellbeing challenges as well and staff were encouraged to:

  • Say hello to everyone you see on your walk today, 
  • Make a donation to Captain Tom Moore’s NHS appeal 
  • Sing along to ‘I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)’ by The Proclaimers 
  • List 10 songs or books that have “walk” or “walking” in their title 
  • Make a list of your favourite walks to do when lockdown ends 
  • Count how many birds you have heard sing during your walk

We’d like to end this blog with a quote from one of staff which we feels sums up the success of the campaign wonderfully:-

“I just wanted to say how much I appreciated the Love to Walk campaign – lots of useful information and tips. I don’t know if it’s the lack of background traffic noise but the amount of birdsong when me and my wife, walk along the old railway line is incredible. I didn’t appreciate how much wildlife there is on our doorstep – maybe people could let everyone know if they have spotted anything out of the ordinary when they are out on their walks? My claim to fame is a deer (last Tuesday) and a Jay (apparently quite uncommon).

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