An Argyll and Bute man has won a volunteer award for his effort in helping support the improvement of the health and fitness of his colleagues.
Stephen Whiston has been named Step Count Champion of the Year at Paths for All’s Volunteer Awards 2021 for his work to encourage staff members at Argyll and Bute Health and Social Care Partnership (HSCP) to become more active and help their health and well-being.
Stephen is a team captain of one of the Step Count Challenge teams at Argyll and Bute Health and Social Care Partnership. The partnership provides health and social care services for the people in Argyll and Bute, hospital to community care, care home and care at home.
Head of Planning, Performance and Technology at the Partnership, Stephen played an active role in developing inclusive ways to get staff involved in health and wellbeing initiatives and the Step Count Challenge was a great way to enhance this.
Stephen first took part in the Step Count Challenge hosted by Paths for All in 2017 and has since been an encouraging voice to get them to opt for active methods of traveling to boost mental, physical and social wellbeing and have fun.
He said: “A big part of what we do at the partnership is developing environments and culture to encourage the community to stay healthy through exercise, so the Step Count Challenge has been a really positive programme to allow staff to also participate and forgive the pun ”walk the talk”.
“I was very surprised but delighted to hear I’d won the award but it’s really everyone’s hard work in the Argyll and Bute Health and Social Care Partnership which should be recognised.
“2020 and 2021 have clearly been the worst of years, but the 2021 Spring Step Count Challenge has also provided much needed support. It is amazing the number of teams who embraced the commitment to get out there and log their exercise in any form.
“The enthusiasm in our HSCP for the Step Count Challenge was increased by including a host of additional associated fun challenges such as the best photograph prize and best team name – which was Scrambled Legs and a number of fiendish emoji quizzes to keep the grey matter honed as well, introducing social media updates alongside our leader board.
“For me personally, being part of the challenge has helped me be accountable for my own goals., Colleagues know I am a bit competitive and with the Covid19 restrictions, the Step Count Challenge gave me the motivation to meet my own exercise/training objectives and as a result I achieved some new personal bests in cycling.
“This is the beauty of the national Step Count Challenge as you can record steps no matter what activity you do whether that is walking, cycling, swimming or running so everyone can take part. In fact, our Autumn challenge is so popular we now have 60 teams taking part both in Argyll and Bute and NHS Highland.
“My goal is to encourage people to be active whilst having fun so to be recognised for this award is very humbling and I am delighted to accept it.
The Argyll and Bute man was commended at the awards ceremony which was held virtually for the second year and hosted by Fiona Stalker.
Stephen was among 11 different winners at the 12th annual Volunteer Awards that highlighted the outstanding work carried out by volunteers across the country.
The charity supports local authorities and communities to develop inclusive environments for people to be active; whether walking, cycling or wheeling.
Kevin Lafferty, Chief Executive Office at Paths for All, said: “Individuals like Stephen highlight the very reason why we host an annual awards ceremony.
“Stephen’s invaluable contribution is directly working to improve the nation’s physical, mental and social health which has been evident throughout the pandemic, with many going above and beyond their normal duties.
“Hearing the inspirational stories during the award ceremony has highlighted that it is not just enough to say thank you – the work undertaken has provided a lifeline for many and for that we’re forever grateful.”
Paths for All works with the Scottish Government and 30 partners to support and deliver national policies, such as the National Walking Strategy and other ‘active travel’ initiative to improve the mental, social and physical health of the country.
The charity awards thousands of pounds worth of grants to worthwhile projects that improve health, promote walking and improve environments for people to be active in.
To find out more about Health Walks you can join in Argyll and Bute, visit:www.pathsforall.org.uk/healthwalkfinder
Find out about organising a Step Count Challenge for your own organisation here: https://www.stepcount.org.uk/bespoke-step-count-challenges