From April 2012, Macmillan Cancer Support and the Ramblers will take over responsibility for the Walking for Health programme and will work together to significantly increase the numbers of people who are active through the programme. We will work with Local Authorities, the NHS and others to grow the number of local schemes and walks and increase the numbers of walkers, with a particular focus on the least active and people living with and beyond cancer.
Delivering this pledge
The Ramblers and Macmillan have established a strong partnership to develop and strengthen England’s network of health walks schemes through running the national centre of Walking for Health (WfH). The national centre provides a range of services to support local health walks schemes, which are in turn funded and managed by a variety of organisations including local authorities, the NHS, voluntary organisations and charities. Current figures show there are around 650 schemes across England, with around 75,000 regular walkers. These schemes offer programmes of regular short, free, easy walks led by trained volunteers, particularly aimed at people who don’t take much exercise.
WfH was launched as a national project in 2000 and was previously hosted by Natural England with funding from the Department of Health before being divested from the public sector in 2012. Currently the national centre receives no government funding and is supported entirely from charitable sources, mainly from Macmillan with a contribution from the Ramblers. The current agreement lasts for three years until April 2015 but we have already started discussing how we can put WfH on a secure and sustainable footing in the long term.
The Ramblers and Macmillan have agreed a joint vision for the future of Walking for Health. Together we want to ensure that everyone will have access to a short, free and friendly health walk within easy reach of where they live, to help them to become and stay more active. People will enjoy an experience that Macmillan and the Ramblers have enabled, and they will be inspired to give something back.
We are continuing to deliver national centre services which include:
- Training programme for walk leaders
- Accreditation for schemes
- MaterialsNational brand, promotion and marketing including a national website
- Civil liability insurance
- Best practice guidance, advice and support
- A national monitoring and evaluation framework and walker database
Over the next three years we will work to:
- Improve national recognition of the scheme and build a well recognised national brand.
- Increase the number of health professionals recommending health walks to patients.
- Work with Macmillan delivery teams to increase the numbers of people affected by cancer taking up health walks (physical activity is beneficial at all stages of the cancer care pathway)
- Make sure WfH reaches more of the people who need most support to get active – including those suffering from health inequalities.
- Increase the number of schemes and walkers.
- Provide better pathways out of the scheme for those who become fitter through walking, including to Ramblers Group walks.
- Equip local schemes better to apply to funders and commissioners particularly in the emerging new structure of public health delivery.
- Further improve the data collection and evaluation framework to strengthen the case for WfH
- Improve training and support for scheme coordinators.
- Increase our capacity to advocate both nationally and locally for WfH, including establishing an expert panel of GPs and other clinicians, public health policy and delivery experts and academics to support our work.