Lunch break-out

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Lunchtime walking helps Scottish Prison Service staff to break free from the afternoon slump.

When Scottish Prison Service staff members Sheena Taylor, Nursing Services Administrator and Sharon Ritchie, Helpline Operator, trained as Volunteer Walk Leaders in July 2007, they had no idea of the big impact their walking project was going to have. Based at Calton House in the Gyle Industrial area of Edinburgh, SPS now has 8 trained Volunteer Walk Leaders on the staff payroll, runs a weekly ½ hour walk catering for all abilities, and are planning a longer walk that will be held monthly.

There are 280 staff in the headquarters, and like many workplaces in Scotland today, there is a culture of taking your break while still sitting at the computer.
Sharon, who balances a busy home life with work, knew it was a good idea to get away from her desk:

“I’m busy even when I get home, so by going out for a lunchtime walk here at the office, I am getting some “me time” even during the working day. The walks have been the motivation I needed”

Having set ambitious goals for her personal life in 2008 - doing the Moonwalk and losing weight, Sheena sees the lunchtime walks as another way to fit in more activity to her week as well as avoiding the afternoon slump at work.

“Your work productivity is better –you feel great after the walk, and getting out at lunchtime is a welcome break, especially when the weather is good. However even on colder days, everyone comes back to work with rosy cheeks and many have commented that their brains work better in the afternoon”

The walks form an integral part of the Healthy Working Lives award for SPS, as they are maintaining their bronze award as well as working towards the silver. Twenty two staff members regularly join in with the Thursday lunchtime walk which caters for all abilities – and includes a few ladies who just like a short amble, a wheelchair user, and some who like to walk briskly for the 30 minutes. Sharon is delighted with the enthusiastic response from her fellow staff members and the fact that the aptly named “Walkers and Gabbers” group lives up to its name.

“We did not expect the level of talking or mixing that we have had – there are no cliques on the walks, and we find that the group naturally breaks down into faster or slower – however we all start and finish together”

With 6 months of walking and gabbing now under their belts, Sheena and Sharon are optimistic that the SPS WAG walkers are “in it for the long term”. Future developments are assured as Sheena and another colleague are booked on the next Paths to Health Scheme Coordinator 2 day training course.  Senior Management at SPS are starting to sit up and take notice of the group, as it is recognised to be both a popular and beneficial addition to working life. 
Sheena and Sharon, a dynamic pair, who are both natural motivators, sum up by saying:

“For very little effort we have made a big impact”

© 2014 Paths for All - Registered Scottish Charity No: SC025535, Company Limited by Guarantee No: 168554 inc. 19 Sept 1996 at Companies House, Edinburgh