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By Beth Sutcliffe | 10 September 2021 | TAGS: Walking, Beth Sutcliffe

Between Feb 2019 and today, there has been a significant shift in the narrative around the importance of walking to population scale change in physical activity. Greater Manchester has moved from a place where formal walking groups were the mainstay of conversations about the role of walking, to a position where there is widespread understanding of the critical role of walking; for leisure, for travel and for everyday activity that is so significant to population health.

As well as Active Lives data demonstrating how pre Covid, more people were already walking for both leisure and travel in GM. We have seen a shift in the perception of how important walking is for example the Active Soles movement is helping this, particularly in the active workplace agenda.

GM is now 2.5 years into the delivery phase of the longer term Walking Ambition. A social movement takes time to grow and embed (the programme was only one year into implementation when the pandemic started). External evaluators are observing success through the development of apps and social media, through walking Champions, The Greater Manchester Way Campaign and The GM Daily Mile Toolkits, there are festivals and events, websites, animations and there have been Community Investment Fund grants for over 80 VCSE organisations. These tangible assets and investments have been critical tools to support and enable the movement to grow, and are growing capacity and capability from neighbourhoods, through localities and GM wide leadership on this agenda. We have strengthen relationships with key partners such as TfGM and recognise how active travel has a key role to play in increasing physical activity overall, especially amongst more inactive and disadvantaged population groups. (e.g. Sport England Active Lives data for walking shows that disadvantaged population groups are more reliant upon forms of active travel to achieve recommended levels of activity).

Through the development of the theories of change (‘Enablers for Change’) we are understanding what it takes to make change happen and to enable active lives (learn more here).

The latest evaluation report can be downloaded below.

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