Looming funding deadlines get your application in….


As at end of November 2016

To conduct a funding search use the £30 online facility I provide to tailor your results. You can do this here:

Below is a round – up of not for profit funding streams available. Follow the URL links , or use the contact email / phone number to go to the website and view application criteria.

Barring Foundation – strengthening the voluntary sector

 Funding is available through the following two funding streams:

Training, Education and Capacity Building – Seed funding grants of up to £30,000 over

a six month – two year period to support organisations to understand how their

objectives can be achieved through use of the law or human rights based approaches.

Priority will be given to projects that provide:

 Capacity building for organisations

 Capacity building for collaborations and partnerships

 Training and education

Applied Projects – Grants of up to £150,000 are available for projects that last for

approximately three years.



Casey Trust

Grants are available to registered charities for projects in the UK that support children

and their welfare. Previous grants have been for between £1,000 and £12,500. Most

grants are for £2,500 or less. The Trust is increasingly looking at start-up projects or

new initiatives within an existing project.

You can apply at any time.

Tel: 0207 435 9601


Community Radio Fund

The Community Radio Fund is managed by Ofcom with funding from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. To be eligible for funding, radio stations must be not-for profit, run by local people for local people about local issues.

Funding is available for community radio licensees broadcasting under a community radio licence in the UK to cover costs including:

 Fundraising to support the station

 Management

 Administration

 Financial management and reporting

 Community outreach

 Volunteer organisation and support

There are two funding rounds per year with approximately £200,000 available for each round. There is no set level of funding. As a guideline, however, the average grant in the first funding round was £16,780, with grants ranging from £3,000 to £33,897.


Elephant Trust

Grants of up to £2,000 (larger grants of up to £5,000 may be considered) are available to artists, small organisations and galleries to make it possible for artists and those presenting their work to undertake and complete projects when frustrated by lack of funds.

The next deadline is 16th January 2017.

Tel: 020 7922 1160 E-mail: ruth@elephanttrust.org.uk


Family Fund Trust for Families with Severely Disabled Children

Grants are available to help families in the UK who care for severely disabled young people up to the age of 17. To meet the Family Fund definition of severe disability, children and young people must have additional complex needs, or have a serious or life-threatening illness.

There must be evidence that the child’s additional needs impact on the family’s choices and their opportunity to enjoy ordinary life. The Fund gives awards for a wide range of activities, services and products, to enable families to enjoy everyday life.

You can apply at any time.

Tel: 01904 621115



The Leche Trust

The Leche Trust awards grants in the following areas:

 Historic buildings of the Georgian period or earlier

 Church furnishings of the Georgian period or earlier

 Conservation of historic collections in museums and other institutions

 Professional performance in theatre, music and dance

The trustees meet three times a year to review applications, normally in February, June and October. The deadlines for receipt of applications are: 20th December for February meeting, 20th April for June meeting and 20th August for October meeting.

Tel: 020 3233 0023 E-mail: info@lechetrust.org




National Gardens Scheme – Elspeth Thompson Bursary

The National Gardens Scheme (NGS) offers a bursary in memory of Elspeth Thompson who died in 2010. Administered by the Royal Horticultural Society, it is intended to support community gardening projects aimed at bringing the community together by the sharing and acquiring of horticultural knowledge and skills, and by inspiring a love of gardening across all age groups.

Applications for funding are considered in February each year, with the closing date for completed forms set for 31st December of the preceding year. No fixed amount is set but it is envisaged that the maximum amount awarded would not normally exceed£5,000.

Tel: 01483 479719 E-mail: ngsbursary@rhs.org.uk


Power to Change Community Business Fund

The third window for applications for the Power to Change Community Business Fund has opened.

The fund will award grants between £50,000- £300,000 to existing community businesses in England to become more sustainable and have a greater social impact. Projects and organisations must be incorporated, based in England and share the following four key features:

 Locally rooted – they are rooted in a particular geographical place and respond to

its needs, for example high levels of urban deprivation or rural isolation

 Accountable to local community – they are accountable to local people. This can be

demonstrated in many ways but the organisation must have evidence of regular

community influence on the business

 Trading for benefit of local community – they are businesses and their income

comes from activities like renting out space in their buildings, trading as cafes or

selling the produce they grow

Broad community impact – they benefit the community as a whole and can clearly evidence the positive social impact on the broader community. Projects must share one or more of the following seven impact goals:

 Reduce social isolation

 Improve health and wellbeing

 Increase employability

 Create better access to basic services

 Improve local environment

 Enable greater community cohesion

 Foster greater community pride and empowerment.

The grants can be used for the following:

 Capital costs including building, vehicles, equipment of significant value,

refurbishment costs

 Project-specific revenue costs like staff costs, professional fees, volunteer costs.

Power to Change will fund up to 75% of revenue costs, up to 75% of the building related capital costs and 100% of other capital costs. The deadline for Round 3 applications is 16th December 2016 (12pm).Tel: 0300 1240444 E-mail: cbf@be-group.co.uk

For support on funding or bid writing services contact andy@handywriter.co.uk/




The funding landscape


Like the weather the funding arena changes and it changes often. Charities and ‘not for profits’ are constantly told to aim for full cost recovery and sustainability. But in their core market how realistic is this without been at least reliant on some funding.

In my view the work of the VCS (Voluntary, Community Sector) contributes hugely to the UK in terms of community engagement and indeed addressing Society’s problems.

The small community groups operating in the most disengaged areas in the UK, miss out on funds and resources because they rely on been told about it through the relevant Council for voluntary services or workers operating on the ground.

Yes the funding world is fragmented and over – subscribed. As a bid writer the truth be told some of it is a little luck and the rest is making sure funding applications are supported by credible data to prove a need for the project and bespoke approach.

There are also a plethora of funders operating under the radar, missing out on the big funding newsletters, trusts and legacy funds with a range of thematic areas they fund. For a sample see some hand-picked funds I have rounded up here;

Nuffield Foundation

We have seven programmes that fund research and innovation in areas of social policy and education. These are all open to applications.

The programmes are: Children and Families, Early Years Education and Childcare, Economic Advantage and Disadvantage, Education, Finances of Ageing, Law in Society, and Open Door.



Clore Duffield Foundation

Applications are reviewed and rejected on an ongoing basis, although all successful grants can only be awarded at meetings of the Trustees. These are held twice a year, usually in June and December. Grants range from £10,000 to in excess of £1m, although larger grants are made infrequently. The majority of expenditure is for capital projects – only a small number of grants are made each year for programme funding.




The Rayne Foundation

Makes grants to charitable and not-for-profit organisations across the UK tackling a variety of issues.

As an independent funder, an important part of our role is to support work which is untried and which may have uncertain outcomes but which has clear objectives. We favour work which could change the way that we tackle issues in society and which could have lessons for others beyond the funded organisation.

The overall theme underpinning our work is bridge building that connects people and communities. We are interested in the arts, health and wellbeing, education – in its widest sense, and social issues. We also have a number of areas of special interest.



Charles Brotherton Trust

THE Charity was established in 1940 by Charles Brotherton, Chairman of the chemical maunfacturers BROTHERTON & CO.

He wished to provide benefit to the residents of the towns in which the Company had manufacturing plants. The Charity is principally directed to encourage young people to improve their own lives by taking advantage of educational opportunities and organised recreational activities. The Charity is also empowered to help improve the standard of living of the elderly and disabled people and relieve the suffering caused by illness.

The geographical areas to which support is given is restricted to:-

Bebington and the Wirral, Birmingham, Leeds, Liverpool, Wakefield and York



Green Giving

We are looking for green projects across the United Kingdom that we can fund and help support environmentally friendly projects like yours. We are offering grants of up to £1000 for green projects and organisations. So get inspired and let us know about your green project idea!


Prior to grants being considered by the trustees, we meet with key representatives of the organisation, often over an extended period of time, to ensure that the organisation and proposed project or programme meet certain criteria:


The WOHL Legacy Fund

The project falls within the established priorities of Wohl philanthropy

The organisation is a registered UK charity or recognised not-for-profit outside the UK in welfare, Medical science, education and employment.

The programme will make a key difference in its field, creating or building on a robust model of activity

The project is tightly aligned with the vision and mission of the organisation

There is proof of visionary leadership that can deliver the project

There is clear proof of strong financial stewardship and of a sustainable organisation or a plan towards sustainability and, where appropriate, a robust business plan

There is clear proof of strong organisational governance, clear objectives and transparent operations



The Sainsbury family charitable trust

Literacy – to help improve the effectiveness of literacy teaching in primary and secondary education for children with learning difficulties, including Dyslexia, and for ex-offenders or those at risk of offending.

Social and cultural change towards more sustainable lifestyles – creative approaches that visualise a sustainable future in positive ways, innovative enterprise and economic models that support sustainable lifestyles and the role of the media in communicating about sustainability.

Environment projects overseas, especially community-based agriculture initiatives, which aim to help people help themselves in an environmentally sustainable way


For tailored funding searches to fit your project use my online form to submit a search for me to use to filter funding sources for your project.



Andy Picken –November 2016 Funding round up.





As we approach Christmas the end of the financial year is looming. Often this means new funding rounds, or funding under-spends that need to be allocated, normally before the end of March (2017).

This is a familiar story for those in the voluntary and community sector or public sector. It is quite frustrating to receive a funding call, usually with two days’ notice given to complete a complicated application form and inevitable governance paperwork.

The best strategy is to forward plan and to have some ready-made projects on the shelf ready to pick out. That way you just need to flesh it out and tailor it to the fund criteria. Remember you are selling a project to a funder so show your passion.

To conduct a funding search use the £30 online facility I provide to tailor your results. You can do this here:


Church urban fund

The Near Neighbours programme offers small grants of between £250 and £5,000, as seed funding for local groups and organisations

Working to bring together neighbours, and to develop relationships across diverse faiths and ethnicities to improve their communities.

Grants have offered funding to a broad range of work; environmental, social, cultural, artistic, and sporting, that furthers the programme’s aims of encouraging community interaction and social action.

Our grants include the following criteria. Projects should:

  • Bring together peoples of two or more different faiths and/or ethnicities, to build friendships and develop relationships of trust.

 Grants Criteria and Guidance

  • Work locally. We want to see people who are living very locally (i.e. in the same street, estate or neighbourhood) come together.
  • Work sustainably. We want to see long term and natural relationships grow, that will last beyond the period of funding.
  • Work to improve the community. We want to see people working to

make their communities a better place to live.

  • Involve diverse people in planning and implementation. People from more than one faith group and/or ethnicity are involved in planning and implementing the proposal.



Grants of between £300 and £5000 are available for activities which benefit the local community.



Cory Environmental Trust in Britain (CETB) FUNDING

Cory Environmental Trust in Britain (CETB) is an environmental body which supports community and environmental projects. CETB awards grants under the terms of the Landfill Communities Fund (LCF), providing funding to a broad range of projects that have as big an impact on the community as possible. Roughly £50,000 maximum award.




The Tudor Trust is an independent grant-making trust which supports voluntary and community groups working in any part of the UK. Wide funding remit without strict themes as the trust believes communities identify their own issues and propose solutions for funding. Large grants available.




Apply for a grant of £10,000-£50,000 to help young people aged 11 to 25 to explore their heritage, from green spaces, museums, and historic sites to language, local memories and youth culture.




Boost sport charity

Small awards £500. Apply by letter – Applications should be emailed to lucy.till@boostct.org or sent to:

Boost Charitable Trust

5 St Bride Street




Hedley Foundation grants

Funds small charities working with young people in the areas of Recreation, Sport, Training, Health and Welfare.

Grant rarely exceed £5,000 – apply by letter Mrs Pauline Barker

Download and post application form here http://www.hedleyfoundation.org.uk/applications.htm

The Hedley Foundation

1-3 College Hill

London EC4R 2RA

email: pbarker@hedleyfoundation.org.uk



We support organisations that help disadvantaged people to have an improved quality of life. This includes organisations that are charitable in nature as well as registered charities.


Most of our funds that are open to apply to are designated in areas around our main office locations in Gloucestershire, Fareham and Farnborough in Hampshire, London and Wiltshire.  There are smaller budgets for Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff,  Glasgow, Manchester and Leeds.


We also consider applications for overseas projects provided that there is a UK partner organisation to administer the grant.

We do have limited funds and this means we have to lay down strict criteria for giving.

Therefore our focus is on giving money to organisations that  help to improve the quality of life for disadvantaged people.

What do we mean by disadvantaged?

By disadvantaged people, we mean supporting organisations that help to alleviate the impact, on individuals, of being disadvantaged. For example:

Physical disability/learning difficulties

Economically disadvantaged

Health impaired

Life limited

Mental health


Carers/young carers

Vulnerable (young)

NEETS – young people not in education, employment or training.




For support on funding or bid writing services, including full lists of funders contact andy@handywriter.co.uk for prices.


Ten thoughts on reframing transport policy  as a health investment

Great read Greg. I visited a the National bus expo conference recently. After a discussion with seat manufaturers they were struggling to design seats for bus dirvers in an already tight cockpit area for up to 30 stone bus drivers. This is a great indicator of sednetary jobs and its effects something I know some bus operators are trying to address. https://andrewjamespicken.com/2016/11/06/driven-to-inactivity/

Sheffield DPH

Air quality is a problem. We don’t walk enough, we don’t cycle enough, many argue we drive too much esp for short journeys.

I’m often asked my view of the solution to “the air quality problem”.

My stock answer is – “drive less, walk and cycle more, get the bus, plant trees, the end”.

I accept these things are harder to achieve than say. We are increasingly overwhelmed with pressing health priorities. Pressing health priorities will not be solved by investment in health services, other sectors make far greater impact. Transport is one of these. From my (admittedly limited) worldview, transport is dominated by the road + car is king mindset and engineering solutions. Maybe Im wrong, but…..

We all want more cycling and walking. We all want better air quality. However “a few schemes to encourage more cycling” won’t lead to much large scale change.

Changing the rules by…

View original post 2,896 more words

Brand Strength – Marketing Muscle



World strongmen – supplying strength to business


Strongmen – something of an unknown quantity. In sporting terms it slips under the radar of the more commercialised sports offerings, but is equally, as if not more fascinating.

Ask most people about World’s strongest man and they will tell you they love to watch it at Christmas. However this is screened 6 months after the competition has took place, usually on channel 5. What sport does that?

As many of my networks on Linkedin are aware, around my consultancy work on health and wellbeing projects I manage, organise and run strongman shows, roadshows and publicity stunts with these awesome guys.


One of my athletes, who I personally sponsor to support his career, is England’s current strongest man. At only 22 years of age he is the youngest ever competitor to win the title after battling it out in London earlier this year. Dedication and hard training.

After starting these shows from scratch and learning about my audiences I have had an insight into the opportunities the sport can bring. Quite simply what these athletes can do is quite simply breath taking.

My target audiences may be a surprise. Rather than burley men turning out to watch our events, and you do get some, the number one fans are women and children. When we give access to the crowd to have ‘selfies’ with National strongmen it simply goes down a storm.

That’s why our clients have commissioned us to operate strength roadshows in shopping centres, leisure parks and retail centres bringing the athletes to customers – which has worked very well.

Our traditional sponsors of such shows and events, for example supplement companies have been replaced by car dealerships, or fast food outlets keen to see their brand associated with strength and increasing footfall with strongmen.

If you think about it deadlifting 500kg is an amazing feat of strength (the current world record), but weights on a bar don’t tell the full story or look half as impressive as every-day objects being lifted, pulled or carried.

For instance the very idea of lifting a car, something we drive to work in and on school runs on a daily basis, is quite clearly insane to most of us. In the World of strongmen it’s pretty standard.

Pulling a truck, or bus weighing up to 20 tonnes in weight across a 20 metre distance in the quickest time is another crowd favourite and achievable by most athletes. The trick is getting it moving and I tend to use the ‘bigger’ men for these re 25 stone in weight and over 6 feet 5 inches tall.


When you have a background of marketing and then work with in a sport you get the insight to get to know the sport and cherry pick the best elements that sell and can work for business. Super strongman has done this.

Standing inside an adapted car and then picking it up and carrying it across a distance is another mightily impressive show. However in stark contrast a simple tug of war with crowd participation is equally as entertaining and the crowd love it. Often they get involved.

The crux of this article is the sport of strongman is growing. It’s different, un accessible to most but through my operating brand super strongman available to come out as an event, or as part of an event, strength demo. In fact you name it we can do it.

We have been asked to dress as Romans for a City festival (24 stone 6 feet 9 inches tall men look good as gladiators), Santa’s and theming our events and equipment around a Halloween, Easter or Xmas theme.

We have pulled several tractors with a Guinness World record holder for farm parks, buses for community transport schemes and business anniversary events.  We have even pulled two brand new Mitsubishis for a dealership on an athletics track for a media event and show

We even do themed shows for shopping centres and retail parks re Father’s day strength demo with UK’s strongest junior, England’s strongest man and Yorkshire’s strongest man – LAKESIDE STRONGEST MAN/

The most interesting thing about the sport is the way we can tailor the strength of these guys to tie in with some many marketing messages businesses want to convey.

We can even be part of staff health days and ran ‘lighter’ strongman taster sessions for staff with a Guinness World Record holder instructor. It causes quite a stir. Or a strongman tug of war at a workplace between departments.

For example brand alignment around strength, power (steel industry), reliability, grip (tyres), emission free (bus pulls for example using a strongman). We also do bus pulls with passengers on board which always looks impressive.


Our next idea is to run a National bus (preferably) or truck pulling league in 3 areas of England (South, Midlands and North) with the top 3 from each area across 3 weight categories progressing to the final.

The alternative option to this is to run a day of bus pulling in a chosen town / City to partner with, a bus or coach operator to supply a vehicle and we will secure the biggest strongman names in England to participate. Jump on board and sponsor us.

To do this as a first for England we would need a sponsor to resource the event and then we will project manage it supplying the sponsor with the marketing objectives they require.

Aside from this I offer the only strength show on the road, fully MC’d, all equipment and protective floor matting provided and full public liability and event insurance.

Contact me at superstrongman28@gmail.com / Facebook: @superstrongman28 Twitter: @superstrongmen with your ideas and we can make it happen.




Driven to Inactivity

We hear it all the time. Health, a lack of physical activity and the potential cost to the NHS. How do we become more physically active as a nation and do Employers have a responsibility?

For example, Sit Down – a supplier of stand up desks, and with arguably a vested interest in this area has gone a step further and introduced walking breaks into employment contracts. walking contracts

Is the sit down culture of our workforce directly attributed to obesity and all of the nasty associated conditions and diseases it causes? Well what better example than the bus industry, which I had the pleasure of learning about at the NEC Birmingham Euro bus Expo recently.

Whilst my visit was to make bus operators and manufacturers aware of my strongman services to business, particularly pulling buses with England’s strongest men for marketing purposes the conversation took a remarkable twist.

Speaking to a bus driver seat manufacturer I became aware of the challenge for designers to manufacture seats capable of sitting comfortably up to 30 stone in weight bus drivers.

As I run health and wellbeing services for business I quickly changed hats and delved further. The gentlemen from Be Ge seating informed me that due to limited space in a bus cabin designing seats to accommodate larger drivers was a particular challenge.

He also went on to address industry concerns around overweight drivers and the potential for unfit drivers to become ill at the wheel whilst responsible for a bus full of passengers. This isn’t saying all bus drivers are unfit of course, but just an observation of a pattern developing in the bus industry.

After reflecting on my conversations I thought the job gave a classic example of how inactivity at work has a profound impact on our health. Many of us are in jobs where we are free to move about, but still choose not to take the ‘active’ break. Instead we sit at a desk working and then stay sat down for breaks. Pretty much like a bus driver.

Bus drivers arguably don’t have a choice, although I am sure there are operators out there who have introduced working practices to address this. If there are please email me at andy@handywriter.co.uk and share your thoughts with me, I would love to hear about best practice in the industry.

Back to the point. So the overwhelming evidence suggests that our workplace environment and job role has a direct impact on our health. We all should know that by now. A bus driver may typify this assumption perfectly.

The solution is a difficult one. For the bus industry maybe a seat that is designed with some sort of resistance band integrated? May be an adaptation of the below. More of a gimmick than anything but may be a start.

Or an employee health and wellbeing strategy to make bus drivers aware of the importance to move more and healthy eating advice that is specific to job roles.

For instance a US study in 2013 concluded that bus drivers had a 1 in 3 chance of becoming obese. US Study fat bus drivers

In another twist first bus in Bristol in 2010 challenged 11 drivers to lose over 300 kg in body fat as part of a company sponsored health and wellbeing programme. So some operators are becoming proactive in addressing the issue.

So the conclusion is we must as a Nation provide opportunities to move more across all sectors. It cannot be the sole responsibility of the NHS, employers offer an ideal position to help address their employees health.

I am not labelling the bus industry bad in terms of a job, but rather as an example of where a job may make it hard to be active in a working day which directly results in weight gain. We don’t need an expensive study or research project to tell us that, the evidence is right there.

The benefits to business don’t just come in the form of potential ROI, A health and wellbeing strategy could contribute to retain and recruit the best staff – becoming an employer of choice.

Pro active businesses such as First bus in Bristol can become part of a National drive to change the culture of a Nation.

Follow my journey with a team of dedicated professionals as I try and get a City, namely Sheffield, the most physically active City in the UK by 2020 by reintegrating movement back into our lives.

For more information follow on twitter @handywriter4u or for health and wellbeing consultancy services email andy@handywriter.co.uk / 07887400202

Driving forward habitual physical activity

If it in only took 30 seconds……..


One recent study suggested that it only takes a doctor 30 seconds to instigate behavioural change in someone who is overweight by using the word ‘fat’. Now if that were the case how come potentially life and death diseases such as lung cancer from smoking haven’t been enough to stop people smoking.


Arguably the smoking ban had more of an impact. These claims aren’t in anyway shape or form substantiated, these derive from my own observations. However they support my theory that culture is the real driver of lifestyle change and healthy behaviours.


I always like to use an analogy I devised years ago as a practicing health trainer and health improvement officer. It is to do with habits, and although very simplistic compared to the sea of academical studies and far more clever people than myself operating in this field it captures my point rather beautifully.


The vast majority of us brush our teeth. If you pose the question ‘why do you brush your teeth’, many people will probably look at you rather sarcastically and say to keep them clean and stop decay. Or ‘why wouldn’t I’? A habit instilled in us since childhood. A ‘normal’ ‘regular’ and ‘embedded’ routine.


Teeth of course are a great example. A part of the body ‘under the spotlight’, impressions are formed upon meeting people and teeth are highly visible – why wouldn’t you want to look after them?


Ask the same person why they don’t necessarily look after their ‘health’ the same way they look after their teeth and it sort of makes more sense to them. It makes them ask themselves ‘why don’t I? Making the intangible tangible.


Of course what is ‘health’ – a term used to describe the status of your body’s functions in relation to how effectively they do their job? A clinical value given to ones ability to function efficiently? You catch my drift – it’s not tangible, it doesn’t really resonate with a lot of us tied up in our busy lives.


But habit doesn’t have to necessarily resonate with someone. Habits (bad and good) become routine. Take smoking – how hard is it to kick the habit? Not just the smoking, but the break at work, the social aspect etc. Breaking the routine. Now if we could embed a more physically active lifestyle into someone that then became a habit – job done. In theory.


However the big problem is we’ve arguable designed convenience and speed into our lives. It’s fast paced both on the work front and family front. Physical activity is hard to come by and our employment tasks have changed over the generations. 9-5 desk jobs are the norm. Sitting down is normal and standing up and moving is an inconvenience.


Not only that but physical activity becomes a chore. Gym bunny and lycra clad brigade images are conjured, exercise before work, or after work – the perception is time just isn’t there. But it is. Remember we have formed bad habits and routines, but these can be redesigned. Forward plan and use that bike to work if possible. Commute by public transport and walk more where you can.


Instead of walking and cycling becoming ‘alien’ concepts to children embed this in your routine as a family. See the built environment around you as a ‘mega gym’ with equipment free to use. Stairs, escalators, that round trip to the train station, hills – it becomes addictive.


It certainly isn’t all about marathons and extreme pursuits. It’s about small changes that fit within our lives. We all have a responsibility to hand this advice to our children, families and friends. Lead by example, and although breaking the norm of ‘it’s not how we do things around here’ from peers and family members your actions will earn respect. Others will follow.


Word of mouth and leading by example are the driving forces of culture change. Wishful thinking is 30 seconds is enough to instil change into someone overweight – but it’s a start. Far more important is Community involvement – a key principle in embedding ‘healthier routines’ into people’s lives.


Another is the way we move and the barriers to that movement. Traffic, distance to work, income, how active we are dependant on where we live (yes this does have an impact), to the practicalities of cycling to work. Arriving sweaty on a bike or messy hair for women (not a stereotype but feedback). All barriers we need to address to engrain physical activity back into the fabric of our lives.


That’s the great ask of the City of Sheffield. To get the City the most active in the UK by 2020. A project I work in and not only are we looking at road design for active travel, parks, sports, activity groups and bringing everything together to play its part we are asking people to get involved.


Sedentary habits can be broken when the City of Sheffield has spoken.


Andrew Picken





Why our world is ‘inactive’.

It’s great to see Governments and World Health Organisations championing the benefits of physical activity. A lost part of our lives that has been swallowed up by time constraints, work and modern conveniences. The internet, automobile and built environments designed for mass transport. Not only that but physical activity has become, well just too much effort.

We have heard it all before but believe it or not we are designed to move. Even though sport is a great way to engage people it misses the more ‘general’ population. The part of society that has forgotten about physical activity, brought up in environments where outside play as a child has been stifled by the lure of ipads, tablets, the internet and sedentary based activities remain the challenge for World Governments.

As we progress through life our working environments have become more adept to convenience and less physical in nature. We need to adapt to this change, become creative in how we build more movement into our lives. Our unpredictable climate isn’t always conducive to exercising outdoors but there are many opportunities to become active.

Many Cities around the UK are trying to get their citizens more active, setting goals such as Sheffield’s ambition to become the most active City in the UK. But with these ambitious targets we need investment and ambitious ideas. Factors such as our built environment, family cultures, personal barriers should be acknowledged and addressed. Encouraging ‘low level’ physical activity opportunities is essential such as simply walking more.

Behavioural change prompts that make us stop and think placed around our suburban concrete jungles. Visual signs that encourage us to take the stairs instead of the lift.


Signs around Cities and walking routes that display time to various key locations through walking rather than distance. We need to take a leaf out of the private sector and market physical activity so that it resonates and appeals to its intended audience.

Time is always an excuse to becoming more active. But what is time – we live and die by the clock with deadlines and constraints. By incorporating physical activity into our lives and seeing the World around us as full of opportunities to become more active – frees time. Work against the perception, sell the benefits.


Then there is the ‘biggy’ of becoming more physically active which is often overlooked. The benefit to your mental health and sense of emotional wellbeing. That sense of fufilment or achievement by becoming more active. The endorphines – the body’s feel good chemical that lifts our mood.

I guarantee you by walking more in the Countryside, or enjoying the outdoors you will become more connected to nature. Time to breath, enjoyment of the space and the soaking up of the natural environment has huge benefits to us. I always take time to wind down using walking as not just exercise but as meditation. A break from the break neck speed of life.

So to become more active, doesn’t necessarily take sporting skills, just a splash of creativity and planning. Know that the little things make a difference – those few extra steps a day, stairs instead of lifts or walking those short journeys instead of using the car.

We have some great initiatives such as the newly launched ‘One You’ Campaign through Public Health England. An attempt to personalise health promotion messages and advice based on a health quiz you complete. It’s a great website and FREE – check it out here – PHE ONE YOU

But the NHS and Health Authorities can’t do it alone. They can support us, but to really turn the tide of obesity in the Western World we need to play our part. I participated in a half marathon last weekend. I had more respect for the participants I saw, who were clearly overweight, than us seasoned runners.

Of course we don’t need to all be running 10k’s, half marathons and marathons. But to some of us that purpose is the driving force for embracing change and keeping motivated. For others it maybe eating healthily with a treat day on a weekend for example. There are so many enjoyable family activities such as walking and cycling to get involved in.

So the real battle is changing the perception of exercise. If gyms are your thing thats fine, but they aren’t for everyone. To really get the nation moving we need clever health promotion campaigns aligned with businesses and public sector bodies working together to increase physical activity opportunities and eventually changing the culture of inactivity that has embedded itself within our society.

Andrew Picken


Workplace health – the resistance within….


Workplace health – the resistance within….


In a world of social media and social sharing businesses all over the UK are increasingly aware of the need to embed workplace wellness strategies into their workforce. The trap that many Employers fall into is the ‘seeing to be doing good’ attitude with little thought about the practical considerations required to fully implement an effective Health and Wellbeing strategy across the business.

Not only is business looking at the long term health of their workforce they are interested in the message this conveys in the digital world. An Employer that attracts the best talent due to its unique approach to staff development and the benefits of choosing that particular employer over competitors should be central to any recruitment drive.

I am often asked by clients ‘to remove the barriers to staff engaging in health and wellbeing activities’. I often find the main barriers come about through internal resistance from process, key influencers not engaging with the H & W activities and a general reluctance to accept innovation. This is not true of all Companies but it often a common issue amongst my freelance clients I work with.

The key to unlocking this is a difficult one. First of all it depends where H & W fits within the Organisation. This is often in an HR or Health and Safety department, or traditionally it may sit within an Occupational function. The positioning of H & W is fundamental to its success, quite simply because where it is positioned in the business will send mixed messages to employees. Enforcement, surveillance or a little mistrust may be channelled from where the H & W function sits.

H & W relies on employee engagement to work. It needs its own identity otherwise it will get diluted within the regulatory processes of Health and Safety, the broad remit of Human Resources or the clinical nature of occupational health departments. But to the vast majority of businesses that at least have a Health and Wellbeing Function no matter where it sits, for now are leading the way in investing in it in the first place.

For now let’s forget the position of the H &W function and take a closer look at its conflicts with internal business processes. Just like public health programmes, workplace health programmes will have their detractors. May be from the very people it aims to engage. The importance of creating opportunities for involvement in H & W and incentive driven programmes, rather than forcing it – is crucial.

Employers also have to be careful not to be seen as medalling in peoples personal lives. For example the Government ‘Nanny state’ reputation actually helped to turn people off the health recommendations that were aiming to engage them! Business too has to take head of these pitfalls. By all means offer a H & w programme but keep it fun and keep it open. Reward and incentive based programmes will help to negate these misconceptions. Acknowledge some people will want to go to work, do their job and thats it. It won’t be for everyone.

However creativity must be embraced. Overall H &W needs to be fun. It needs breathing space to evolve and slowly change the culture of a business. Operating within squeezed business parameters creates a danger of it becoming too corporate and stifled of creativity. That way it becomes almost invisible to employees. It needs to be different, it needs to challenge boundaries (within reason), but overall to gain traction and credibility by senior management it needs to deliver results.

To deliver results it needs embracing from the top down. Some Businesses are pioneering some excellent projects. I work with businesses allowing time within the working day for staff to access nutrition and lifestyle advice run by an external organisation. This has proved a great way to deliver opportunities for staff to learn about healthy eating whilst at work.

A key component to the success of a H & W programme is to get people talking. May be surprising them with some visible prompts to take the stairs instead of the lift, or delivering education sessions based on topics based on employee feedback. Intrigue will create conversation and help spread the message by word of mouth – the ultimate form of marketing in my opinion.

The most successful H &W programmes benefit most from an employee led group or task force. That way a credible platform is created that can channel feedback into Management. H & W will then be seen as ‘tangible’ with members accessible to other staff and is an excellent way to collect feedback and suggestions through the workforce.

To bolster this I always suggest formalising the group with a ‘position paper’ or a ‘terms of reference’ document to give the H &W group an identity and brand. This will help to raise the profile of H &W across the business, but especially at senior managment level. The balance has to be struck to allow staff members to get involved in their H & W duties but being mindful that this is often additional time on top of their normal day to day job.

Challenging the detractors is harder. It is important not to create a one dimensional H & W programme based only on sport or physical activity. It must take into account lifestyle, sleep, stress and mental health which should be at the heart of any successful H & W programme. Overall health has many wider determinants that cannot be ignored.

Training sessions on emotional resilience, mindfulness and EAP programmes should be interlinked. An holistic approach will have far greater reach than a programme based on engaging the ‘fitties’ within an Organisation. Once that reputation has been created it will be very hard to change.

By its very nature results of an effective H &W programme can and will take time. This is not always aligned to the culture of a business where targets and outcomes are quantified in profit and sales for example. Capturing the benefits of a H & W programme and fighting against the ‘nice to have’ reputation will always remain a challenge.

But no matter how long it takes, any business taking the leap into H &W is making an investment into the future of their workforce. In a cut throat world where competition is tight any competitive edge can make a positive difference. Businesses that are both daring and pro-active in investing in their people now will surely reap the benefits of long term employee health. This will pay dividends when managing an aging workforce that future forecasts predict through delayed retirement patterns.

As well as been noted as a responsible and ethical employer it may also be the difference between business success and business failure. If you require support, advice or a H & W programme devised for your organisation contact andy@handywriter.co.uk , blog: https://andrewjamespicken.com/

Online portfolio: http://handywriterportfolio.webs.com/




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