Building active communities with Nordic Walking

Our partnership with British Nordic Walking – which kicked off in 2016 thanks to funding from the Big Lottery Fund – has enabled more than 200 people across Derbyshire to enjoy a more active lifestyle.

Here’s why it’s been so successful….

Why has the partnership worked so well?

Nordic Walking is a social activity suitable for all ages and abilities. The use of poles make it more effective than regular walking, working arms and legs at the same time. Yet it’s easier on the joints so it’s suitable for people with a range of health issues too.

Great partnerships work when there’s a shared vision. In this case using Nordic Walking as a catalyst to bring people together and raise physical activity levels. Therefore improving health, reducing loneliness and boosting self-confidence.

The aim was to connect the community knowledge and contacts of shift with the knowledge and expertise of British Nordic Walking.

Together we engaged with community leaders (or Nordic Walking instructors) – one in each district – and supported them to develop and take local ownership of their sessions.

How does the partnership work?

Together, we facilitated the necessary training, equipment and ongoing support for the Nordic Walking instructors.

They were then able to tailor their Nordic Walking sessions to the needs of the local area. It has become sustainable over a longer period of time, rather than a one-off project. Even though the funding officially came to an end in July, people continue to enjoy the activity and we still have an ongoing relationship with British Nordic Walking.

We’ve also seen how partnerships are important in connecting the instructors across the districts. Some have joined forces to make the activity accessible to even more people.

Catherine Hughes at British Nordic Walking said: “The partnership between British Nordic Walking and Community Sports Trust works so well because of our common purpose. As well as some overlaps we both bring different areas of expertise. Whilst we know all about Nordic Walking and training the instructors, the community knowledge was crucial in getting the sessions off the ground and helping people engage with them.

“It’s also beneficial for the instructors as they have two sources of support. Participants feel safe as they know the instructors have been trained to a high standard. I feel we’ve built a permanent relationship which reaches way beyond any one pot of funding.”

How have people benefited?

The partnership has created a network of local, sustainable opportunities for people of all ages and abilities across Derbyshire to enjoy being active.

Some instructors have also gone on to secure additional funding. This has made it available to more people in more places. It’s also reaching different groups of people such as mental health patients and school children.

As a result, people who were struggling with mobility are now enjoying fresh air, exercise and socialising with others. Young people who had bad experiences of physical activity at school have found an activity they feel confident with. The instructors have been able to pursue something they’re passionate about and it’s given them purpose again after retirement or injury.

Elizabeth Nazralla had limited breathing capacity and was becoming increasingly housebound when she started Nordic Walking.

She said: “Phill [Nordic Walking instructor] introduced me to Nordic Walking to improve my fitness and enable me to walk independently. I can now walk independently to the local library and park despite the hilly terrain and hope to do more in the future. You finish the session with a sense of achievement and look forward to doing even more. I am very grateful to him for teaching me Nordic Walking with all its health benefits.”

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