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Orwell Walk This Weekend

Hundreds of walkers will take part in the wonderful Orwell Walk on Sunday – and some will face a special business challenge.

The walk, now in its 35th year, is organised by the Rotary Club of East Ipswich and is sponsored this year by Healthy Ambitions Suffolk.

The Orwell Walk has introduced its first ever workplace challenge and a range of businesses from across the county have entered the event following a call for Suffolk Workers to become Suffolk Walkers. The challenge has been developed by Healthy Ambitions Suffolk in partnership with BBC Radio Suffolk in an attempt to support employers who are committed to improving the health and wellbeing of their staff.

The walk, which is none competitive and can vary in distance between three and 26 miles is an ideal event for beginners and experienced walkers alike, which makes it an excellent challenge for the work place.

Two of Suffolk’s workplaces which have taken up the challenge are Suffolk Constabulary, based at Martlesham, and the Suffolk Housing Society, from Bury St Edmunds.

Karen Moore, Corporate Services Manager from Suffolk Housing Society, said: “The health and wellbeing of our staff is very important to us. Events like this are great fun and also a good way to improve relationships and communication throughout the organisation.”

The Suffolk Housing Association team consists of regular but casual walkers, who are hoping to accomplish 12 miles each during the Orwell Walk. Karen added: “Since working with Healthy Ambitions Suffolk we have taken part in a number of events including the Million Step challenge. We have also introduced water coolers, fresh fruit, healthier buffet lunches, flexible working and are currently developing a relaxation and stress relief lunchtime package.”

The Suffolk Housing Association is currently applying for Healthy Ambitions Suffolk’s new Small Business Award which has been especially designed for organisation with fewer than 75 staff.

Suffolk Constabulary, which already have a silver Healthy Ambitions Award and are currently working towards the gold award, have entered two teams of walkers.

Peter Golding, the Personal Safety and Physical Trainer, who leads the Force’s employee wellbeing programme said: “Encouraging staff to become more active is becoming increasingly important throughout the workplace. Often lifestyle choices today are more conducive to poor health rather than good health. This has a very negative impact in the workplace and it is more important than ever for businesses to be proactive in their approach to employee health to avoid spiraling levels of sickness absence. The Orwell Walk is a great event to take part in because as well as encouraging our staff to get out and walk, it also acts as a wonderful team building exercise.”

Claire Parker, the Healthy Ambitions Suffolk Business Support Co-ordinator, said: “Organisations like Suffolk Housing Society and Suffolk Police who prioritise the health and wellbeing of staff can anticipate a number of important business benefits including improved morale, improved communication, lowered stress and reduced sickness absence. Our programme helps organisations to address a range of health and wellbeing issues such as stress, activity and smoking which can all be translated into significant financial savings for the business.”

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