The QE Staff outdoor and wellbeing group has expanded to become the NHS North East Wellbeing and Outdoor activity Group, working in partnership with Alexander Adventures Ltd.
Open to all NHS staff, the group focuses on outdoor sports and activities for different competence levels, from local walks and ‘confidence building’ beginners sessions swimming outdoors, to full days canoeing, paddle boarding and hiking.
With a passion for the outdoors and fitness, the mission is simply to “provide staff with a safe space to clear their heads, relax and rebuild their morale after such a challenging period”. As well as mounting evidence to support the benefits of exercise and being outdoors the group has received much positive participant feedback, as well as gaining recognition from the Gateshead Health NHS Foundation Trust, with Fior Sayer being appointed Health and Wellbeing Ambassador in 2021.
The group currently reaches hundreds of staff and almost a hundred took part in the activities over 2021 alone. The feedback from the team has been overwhelmingly positive and several staff members have shared their feelings about how helpful the group activities have been for their wellbeing after a difficult couple of years working through the pandemic.
One staff member said that although they originally weren’t sure outdoor experiences were for them, they “really enjoyed the day and now want to come along to more wellbeing events. The staff couldn’t have been more helpful and appreciated the challenges we had faced. We all had the opportunity to open up and talk in safe environment”.
Another group member explained how the day spent outdoors is “a real me day”, adding that they “always come back feeling rebooted, refreshed, happy and feeling I’ve achieved something – ready for the following weeks challenges”.
Plans for the future involve a Yorkshire three peaks challenge, mountain days in the Lake District, lowland walks, paddle boarding, coasteering, kayaking, sea kayaking and glamping trips to name but a few.
Fior wants the group to provide staff with a safe space to clear their heads and give colleagues somewhere to relax, after the pandemic she started the group to “help rebuild morale amongst the team”.
In addition to setting up the group, last year Fior ran an incredible 28 mile marathon to raise money for fund a series of these wellbeing days for her fellow staff.
“I have a passion for the outdoors and fitness. Being able to share that with my colleagues provides me with a boost, and I hope that doing so helps boost others too.”
At present the group is only on Facebook but the team are looking to expand this to Twitter and Whatsapp. You can currently join using this link. Alexander AdventuresLTD are contactable at 0191 903 9936 and firstname.lastname@example.org.
There are regular updates and events for you to join and the team are looking into creating a separate section on the Alexander Adventures website for NHS staff only with a QR code to take people directly to the site and activities.