3 July 2017

“It’s given me some confidence that there are things that I can do, that I can do it, and that there are opportunities out there.”

That’s the view of a participant in the “Walking for Purpose” project, which after a successful pilot scheme in Hillsborough is now set to be rolled out across Sheffield.

Sheffield City Council has been successful in receiving funding from the Department for Transport to run Walking for Purpose for a further three years, and the project is now set to be launched on Wednesday, 5 July.

Walking for Purpose aims to get people walking, moving more and enjoying a healthier lifestyle. In turn, this will help to reduce isolation, connect people to work opportunities in their communities, and enable participants to learn about training and volunteering.

The scheme offers those who are looking for work the opportunity to gain valuable skills and training that employers want, while being active with a gentle walk. Participants are met at a local venue where friendly and approachable staff will walk with them to different training providers or workplaces.

Councillor Mary Lea, cabinet member for culture, parks and leisure at Sheffield City Council, said: “The Walking for Purpose pilot scheme was hugely successful, with participants telling us that it boosted their confidence, increased their levels of physical activity, and made them realise that there are jobs and training opportunities out there for them.

“The feedback we had from both the participants and businesses involved was absolutely fantastic, with one participant describing the scheme as being like ‘VIP treatment’ due to the chance they got to get behind the scenes of local companies.

“That’s why I’m so glad that Walking for Purpose is now being rolled out across the city, and more people will get the chance to take part in this hugely positive scheme, which has already made a difference in changing people’s lives for the better.”

The project has been developed in partnership with organisations including Reach South Sheffield, Tinsley Forum and Zest. Walking for Purpose will initially run in Gleadless Valley, Tinsley and the city centre, before being rolled out to different areas over the next three years.

Following the Walking for Purpose pilot scheme, the Sport Industry Research Centre (SIRC) at Sheffield Hallam University carried out a study to see how successful it had been.

As part of the evaluation process, one participant told the research team: “It’s given me some confidence that there are things that I can do, that I can do it, that there are opportunities out there. And knowing about some of these local businesses means that I would be more confident now that if a job came up there, I might be able to apply for it.”

Another said: “It gave me interesting information about how to get a job in the future, and making the first step to do that – how make a good presentation of yourself.”

One participant said: This is something you don’t do in a job club, you don’t go out and meet potential employers and meet such people and gain an insight to see what employers are looking for. The members of staff understand you and try their utmost to get you connected with other people.”

The Sheffield Hallam University research carried out following the pilot scheme concluded that “the combination of the different elements of the project – the led walks, business insight visits, masterclasses, and the support network and atmosphere created – was a unique combination and one which, for these unemployed people, made a real difference.

“All aspects of the project, from the more formal talks and sessions, to the informal conversations and ‘having a laugh’ over tea and coffee, were valued by participants, and worked to sustain their participation in the programme – for many, much longer than the initially anticipated six weeks, and actually for the duration of the project.

“All participants spoken to hoped that the project would be continued, and indicated that, if it were, then they would continue to attend until they found employment.”

Anyone who is unemployed in Sheffield is welcome to take part in Walking for Purpose.

The first walk in the Walking for Purpose project will take place on Wednesday 5 July, from Newfield Green library, between 10am and 12noon.

From then on, initially three walks a week will take place, all running from 10am until 12noon. These will be at Newfield Green library on Wednesdays, at Tinsley Forum on Thursdays and from the Town Hall on Fridays.

To find out more, call 0114 273 4266 or visit the website here.