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By Sunflower Childcare Group & Tameside Council | 29 June 2022 | TAGS: Active Workplaces, Stories, Local Pilot

The initiative is becoming more widespread as it is successfully adopted by businesses across Tameside, including Sunflower Childcare Group who combined active workplaces and a commitment to wellness with their ongoing fundraising.

Making connections to develop the scheme

Community Initiatives Officer Marie Hare runs the active workplaces programme at Tameside Council. ‘My role is a new position that came about as a result of the local pilot work,’ explains Marie. ‘I’m working within the council’s employment and skills teams, and closely with those involved with active travel and public health, to show businesses how being active in the workplace supports a productive, happy workforce.’

Marie’s connection with Sunflower Childcare Group came from her work outside Tameside Council. ‘I’m always looking for opportunities to share active benefits, and often stumble across people doing great things already,’ Marie says. ‘That’s how I found out about the plans at Sunflower, as some of the Sunflower team are members of my Slimming World group. One of their team members was undergoing treatment for leukaemia so they were raising money for Cancer Research. Naturally, I wanted to support them with the council’s scheme to promote moving more in the workplace, which would also recognise Sunflower as an active workplace themselves.’

Providing programmes to spark active ideas

Sunflower’s Duty Manager Andrina Biddle was keen to find out more, so Marie invited the team to one of her workshops to discover what support was available to help them become more active. ‘These workshops follow up from initial contacts we’ve made and show businesses how to input and grow active workplaces’, Marie explains. ‘I’d spoken with the Sunflower nursery manager, Dawn, in advance of the workshop, and discovered she and her staff were all moving less than perhaps you’d expect within a busy childcare environment. This meant I already had some suggestions to discuss with the Sunflower team.’

‘We fed back lots of Marie’s ideas to the wider team, and everything grew from there,’ Andrina says. ‘We started including a yoga session in our staff meeting and ten minute fitness sessions in every team meeting. We keep this light-hearted so it involves us all, even the members of staff who are less active.’

Showcasing benefits for wider teams

The Sunflower team have also expanded their active workplaces ideas to adopt Wellbeing Wednesdays. ‘This can be anything from bringing in healthy snacks to committing to walking into work,’ Andrina explains. ‘But the focus is always to make wellness accessible to everyone and involve all members of staff. That’s one of the greatest benefits we’ve found to becoming more active as a workplace: it’s brought us together as a stronger team. It’s boosted our morale and gives all our staff - no matter their age, size or ability – something we can do together to stay healthy during the working day.’

Next on the agenda for the Sunflower team is the Pretty Muddy race. ‘We want to raise money not only for Cancer Research but also for our colleague’s family – her two young children and partner - to help them create lots of happy memories when she is well enough for trips out and holidays,’ says Andrina.

Demonstrating impact for increasing active workplaces

‘The ongoing work between Tameside Council and Sunflower is a great example of how just one small step can be the catalyst to take our active workplaces programme forward,’ explains GreaterSport’s Strategic Lead for Active Adults John Brady. ‘Marie has put a strong support scheme in place that can be adopted by different people in different organisations, and at multiple levels.’

‘It’s through these schemes we can show that simple activities really do count,’ continues John. ‘It’s not always the “big ticket” events like a 10K run. Instead, it’s accessible changes such as walking meetings and taking the stairs, not the lift, which help us make active workplaces normal and ensure physical activity is included in health and wellbeing plans.’

Marie agrees: ‘It’s great to see our networks connecting, gaining different viewpoints and finding lots of sharing opportunities so we can better understand the work of the local pilot. As the initiative grows, we’re learning more about how people we assume are on their feet all day, like the nursery team, are often inactive, and how others feel their working environment doesn’t make active workplaces appropriate. We want to change perceptions and share stories to inspire others, showing people it doesn’t matter what type of business they’re in, there’s always a way to increase their workplace activity.’

Support for you and your workplace

For more information to support you and your workplace to keep moving during the working day visit the Workplace Toolkit. If you are based in Tameside and would like to contact Marie please email [email protected] 

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