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By GreaterSport | 28 April 2022 | TAGS: The Daily Mile, GM Walking, walking

How the journey started in Greater Manchester  

Whilst a number of Greater Manchester Schools had taken up The Daily Mile soon after its inception, it really started to gain traction across the City Region in early 2017 following three workshops Elaine Wyllie delivered to 150 primary school Headteachers and teachers. The events were hosted by GreaterSport, Greater Manchester Population Health Team and the Greater Manchester Headteacher Alliance for Physical Activity and School Sport. The events enabled school leaders to hear directly about The Daily Mile’s many benefits, including the simplicity of implementing it. All attendees were contacted three months later, and the response was phenomenal, with 82 schools signed up and actively participating.

Keeping up momentum 

To keep the momentum going, a celebration day was planned in September 2017. Backed by Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham, who by this point was a key advocate of the concept, saw over 42,000 primary school children walk, jog or run their Daily Mile on the same day. By this point there were 150 schools across Greater Manchester which had joined the movement. The relationship between GreaterSport and The Daily Mile Foundation continued to flourish and in early 2018 discussions started to take place on what it would take for Greater Manchester to become the world’s first Daily Mile City Region. The principles of which were based on Scotland being named the world’s first Daily Mile Nation. A number of pledges were made, including the ambition that by 2021, 75% of primary schools across Greater Manchester had adopted The Daily Mile. Another goal was to see the initiative take off in other educational settings, namely nurseries, secondary schools and specialist schools. In March 2018, Elaine Wyllie presented Andy Burnham with a special pair of ‘The Daily Mile’ plimsolls to commemorate the city-region’s commitment to becoming the world’s first Daily Mile City-Region. 

The power of a celebration day to drive engagement and sign ups has been consistent through our journey with The GM Daily Mile. In 2018 we honoured our commitment to The Daily Mile and continued to expand it’s reach into settings across the life course in Greater Manchester. Journeying through 'The Daily Mile Day' we took on a roadshow of Daily Mile’s in various setting across GM, starting in a Nursery, through to a workplace, a specialist school, a secondary and onto the place where it all began – a Primary school. Along the way we were joined by stakeholders from across Greater Manchester to reinvigorate their support and demonstrate the impact of a Daily Mile, first hand. It’s the power of the brand and it’s simplicity that makes the Daily Mile so transferable across the population and into different settings, with flexibility to adapt it to the needs of individuals.  


In total, our sign ups to the programme increased to 400 schools (40%), it was at this point we noticed challenges in our reporting of the overall ambition of % school sign ups. Given multiple sign ups per schools, new settings opening and changing names – but we didn’t want this to deter the momentum.   

Our GM ambition was then echoed by national drive when we received investment from Sport England, to be one of 11 regions lucky enough to host a funded Daily Mile coordinator. This dedicated resource allowed us to fully immerse ourselves in the networks to really understand the drivers and barriers to engaging in The Daily Mile and reach into schools that Daily Mile hadn’t yet reached and reengage those where the initial drive may have dipped. We took on a borough-by-borough approach, identifying where there may be opportunities to work with our stakeholders and drive localised campaigns and building on the hard work of our early adopters in Wigan. Within the three years of funding sign ups increased to 500 schools 

Keeping The Daily Mile fresh 

Launched in Dec 2019 The Daily Mile Destinations was originally created in collaboration with Daily Mile coordinators from GreaterSport, North Yorkshire Sport Foundation and RISE- the Active Partnership for Tyne and Wear. It was created in collaboration with teachers and young people as something to help further embed the Daily Mile in their schools. The free resource encourages children to complete their daily miles with each one contributing to their trip around the world, learning about different countries and cultures as they go. It gave schools a physical asset that can be used to motivate, challenge and keep the momentum going around the Daily Mile in their school. The Resource helped schools to reinvigorate the Daily Mile in Greater Manchester and was also adopted by The Daily Mile Foundation so that schools across the country can digitally access the resource. 

Adapting in COVID  

Schools in Greater Manchester also demonstrated how well the Daily Mile could be adapted during COVID to ensure their pupils didn’t miss out despite the many restrictions. Intel from our network of Active Education leads at the time showed that the Daily mile was for some schools the one physical opportunity at the time that they could safely take part in to allow their get pupils to get outside and moving, which was crucial to supporting both physical and mental health of staff and pupils.  

Linking to the wider walking ambition 

The GM Daily Mile Toolkit has been developed to further the GM Daily Mile ambition to become the first Daily Mile City region, by providing adaptable support for adults wishing to take regular short walks wherever they are, independently or through organised activity.    

The development of the toolkit was a response to an identified need from employers and communities for support in organising Daily Mile events to encourage employees and members of the community to walk more often. Over summer 2020 we worked to gain insight from a range of communities across Greater Manchester about the support required to enable them to organise GM Daily Mile activities and produced recommendations for the design and development of a ‘toolkit’ that could be used independently by individuals and organisations so that GM Daily Mile events could be established at scale across Greater Manchester.   The toolkit writing, design and audience testing took place from November 2020 to February 2021.  The suite of three GM Daily Mile Toolkits, for individuals, for community groups and services and for employers, was launched 1st March 2021.  

The GM Daily Mile Toolkit  

The toolkit comprises information and resources to help individual their families and friends take a short walk each day at their own convenience, where they are and with whomever they choose.  It also helps people with a coordinating role working in communities, or with employees in workplaces to plan and organise Daily Mile ‘events’, promote them and encourage others to walk more often through group activity.   The resource helps people with:  

  • Getting started  
  • Planning a mile  
  • Staying motivated  
  • Sharing the health, wellbeing and wider benefits of walking  
  • Involving others and promoting a GM Daily Mile  
  • Celebrating progress and success  

Adoption of the Toolkit by The Daily Mile Foundation 

The Daily Mile Foundation welcomed the development of the GM Daily Mile Toolkit and in summer 2021 approached GreaterSport to enquire about using the content as the Daily Mile Fit for Life assets for use to further the Scotland Daily Mile nation ambition work and to support everyday movement across the world.  Building on the partnership we had, GreaterSport and the Daily Mile Foundation worked together to make this a reality, and on 31st January 2022 the Daily Mile Fit for Life Toolkits were launched, with GreaterSport credited as the developers. 

What next?

A special thank you must be given to all partners across Greater Manchester who have adopted and advocated the programme over the last five years in Greater Manchester. Due to the roll out of the Daily Mile toolkit internationally, adults across the world will benefit from the research and work taken place in Greater Manchester.

Schools can continue to sign up to The Daily Mile to support their pupils to experience the benefits a mile a day can have.

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