As part of the agency’s On Solid Ground mental health and wellbeing awareness work, our very first Wellbeing Team Challenge saw a total of 40 teams and 190 staff taking part in the 4 week competition, which aimed to get staff more physically active and improve their wellbeing.

The Wellbeing Challenge started during Get Active Week, a national campaign that is aimed at tackling inactivity by getting people to play sport at least once a week for 30 minutes.

The Wellbeing Challenge which carried on for another 3 weeks after Get Fit and has been a huge success, with over 295573 minutes of activity recorded. Special congratulations go to overall team winner, The Venerables, who logged 18612 minutes, followed by Get with the Programmes in 2nd place with 16005. The top Individual was from the Warrington based Venerables, clocking up an amazing 7754 minutes. 

How were those minutes achieved? Beverley Barnes, Wellbeing Champion, recalls some amazing stories:
“We received many inspirational stories of team members participating in events such as the London to Brighton Cycle ride, 5K and 10K Race for Life runs, Muddy Muckers and Iron Man Challenges, 5 hour sea kayaking in Kefalonia, not to mention a few blisters and uncomfy bike saddles – despite good padding!

“The challenge did exactly what it was aimed to do and that is to motivate staff to go for a walk rather than sit at desks for lunch, or walk/cycle to work rather than use the car or bus. There have also been stories of staff that had not taken regular exercise before joining the challenge but are now walking, running and have even joined a gym.”

The HCA recognises the importance of staff wellbeing and the benefits of having a healthy and happy workforce. Feedback from team champions and staff who took part in the event has been positive and interest in a Wellbeing Challenge 2016 has already been mentioned!

In the meantime, enjoy the collection of photos and stories from teams taking part. An awards ceremony will be held in 2MS sometime in September.

If you missed this challenge there will be an opportunity to take part in the Resilience Challenge later on in the year. Look out for further news coming soon!

Please see here for more information on Wellbeing and On Solid Ground HCA activities


Participant stories

Pauline’s new best friend for 4 week challenge!! And beyond
‘I confess to being one of life’s greatest procrastinators when it comes to activity / exercise, there’s always something more pressing to do instead – sleeping, socialising, TV watching…….!!  However, the past month has been a revelation and the Active Challenge has helped me prove to myself that, given my competitive nature and fear of letting the team down, I was actually able to find time for some exercise every day for four weeks – a miracle!!  Highlights from the month have been, a trip to Northumberland incorporating a 10 mile walk to and from The Holy Island, still enjoying watching Wimbledon – even in a boiling hot conservatory on an exercise bike, and venturing out on a ‘real bike’ that had been gathering dust in the shed since Christmas!
Lowlights: A few blisters, un-comfy bike saddles – despite good padding!

Jane Stanton’s Inspirational Sea Kayaking story

From pretty inactive couch potato with lazy dog walks to a 5 hour sea kayaking day in Kefalonia which was a real activity challenge and pushed me to the limits and quite an achievement for me!  Absolutely loved it and other than the very heavy arms that meant I didn’t have the strength to lift myself out of the kayak at the end of the day, and the aches in muscles I didn’t know existed,  it was a fantastic experience!!..  I’m keeping up the swimming and brisk walking/jogging too with Bella, rather than lazy walks – and she’s loving it!!! I’ve also lost 8lbs over the 4 weeks, which is good motivation for me to keep up the exercise regime…

Mission Slim Possible
A word from a member of the team: Thank you for your help in co-ordinating the well-being challenge, the two teams of home workers that I have been working with have found it to be a great motivator in helping us all to get more active and has also been a great opportunity to find out what our colleagues get up to outside of work, which has been a good talking point. I have thoroughly enjoyed the challenge and the other activities that it has given me exposure to.

How keeping active helps in managing my long term health condition
I developed Rheumatoid Arthritis in my mid-twenties, the realisation that something was wrong started one evening whilst attending an evening class. I was asked to sign the attendance register and had great difficulty picking up the pen and could barely scribble my name as my fingers were so swollen and painful. Following a visit to my GP and numerous blood tests and a referral to rheumatology, I was given the formal diagnosis. I can remember now, sitting in the rheumatology waiting room seeing posters showing the effects of the condition and patients sat around me, with varying stages of joint deformity and restricted mobility. This painted a very dark picture of my future and the impact that the condition could have.

The well-being challenge has been a great help along the way as it has given me the opportunity to reflect on the types of activities I undertake and to think about other forms of activity I can incorporate into my working day, such as taking a walk at lunchtime to take a break from the working environment. In addition, I introduced running into my fitness regime ten weeks ago and the well-being challenge encouraged me to sign up for my first 5k event which I completed on 18th June. Getting round the very steep course, that incorporated a disused quarry, was a great sense of achievement and as a result I have now built hill work into my running sessions, as all of my running to date had been on flat terrain. In the last month I have also been fortunate to benefit from the Run! City initiative, offered to all HCA employees in the Bristol Office. This initiative has included three sessions with a professional running coach learning about form and technique and I have found them to be very beneficial and I now regularly run on a Sunday morning, covering a distance of 10k.


Morecambe and Wise, Wiser, Wiser & Wisest of all
Jane Hunt as part of the MWWWW team! was trying to record miles equivalent to those required to connect various HCA offices (alongside time input). Jane along with her friend Claire cycled coast to coast on the Way of the Roses from Morecambe to Bridlington over 3 days (26-28 June), a total of 170 miles and 7,848 feet of climbs which for two not so proficient cyclists without very fancy bikes was quite an challenge. The whole challenge forced them to get out on their bikes to train a lot more – trying to get some practice miles in around work, in all weathers and also cycle up and down their local hill several times in succession to try and prepare them for what the Yorkshire Dales may offer. They did make it having pedalled (or occasionally pushed) the full 170 miles, struggled up every ascent and coasted or screamed (depending on the gradient) down every descent, battled through rain, head winds, blazing sunshine and occasional perfect conditions with no injury or punctures. They even gave up alcohol (practically) for a month before hand. They also raised over £1,500 to be shared between Parkinsons UK and St Gemma’s Hospice in Leeds.

Project Support Team
The Project Support put forward five active souls for the Active Challenge who approached the initiative in five slightly different ways:

  • Mark Canning – Mark chose to make himself unpopular at home – his bull dog Buster is worn out from the extra walking and has lost half a stone in weight, his kids have been enrolled in a gym and are suffering from X Box detachment syndrome, and his misses is struggling with the extra washing from all his sweaty post exercise t-shirts.
  • Jon Byrom – Jon went for an up-front financial investment in the Challenge via a new Pure Gym membership and Fit Bit wearable fitness tracker wrist band. Jon also organised a 26 mile 3 Peaks mountain walk in Yorkshire and raised several hundred pounds for the Mustard Tree Charity. He also has the gratitude of his team mates for the resulting foot blisters, sun burn, dehydration and haemorrhoids.
  • Paul Creed – the ‘Sir Bradley’ of the team clocked up hundreds of miles on his bike, and will probably need new stabilisers when the challenge is over. Had Paul slowed down a bit though, the team would have secured more points – Paul was typically doing 60 miles in under three hours on his Raleigh Chopper, when other slower mortals would have scored an extra 90 minutes time to log over this distance. 
  • Alistair Sinclair – Alistair would only deliver ‘cool points’ for the team, with his snowboarding and abs classes activities – the teams very own Fonze. He did selflessly manage to lift the teams spirits on the 3 Peaks walk though, when struck on the head by a flying Frisbee by a random teenager and just calmly laughing the incident off …. Ahem.
  • Karl Tupling – the Team General – and christened Tungsten Tupling by his team mates, Karl managed to post 4.5 hours exercise a day whilst on his beach holiday – running, swimming, hitting the gym and taking romantic hikes with Mrs T. Showing true Churchill spirit, Karl also managed to break the rowing machine in the resort gym early one day before the Germans got to go on it – something which really should have secured extra bonus points in the view of his team!