Posted: Mon, 04 Jun 2018 16:26 by Chris Potter
Hi! My name is Penny Fielden and I've been involved with coaching/teaching Nordic walking for the past two years.
It all came about through being invited along to a Sport England initiative called "Take the Lead" which was trying to get more women into coaching at the beginning of 2016. I was asked to bring along a proposal and I decided I wanted something that could be made available to those over 40 + (particularly women) as I felt this was a demographic where there was a deficit of physical activities being provided at that time.
I was then helped to find funding for training and initial equipment so that I could deliver a community based project and help set up a regular Nordic walking group.
It means being able to bring a sense of achievement into people's lives as well as a whole lot of fun and sociability! Having someone say to you "I haven't done that since …" or "You won't believe what my G.P/physiotherapist said…" or even "I wasn't going to come but I'm so pleased I did" really makes me happy.
Getting the Ministry of Nordic Walks Community Group off the ground, run by volunteers who started Nordic walking with me, knowing they believe in the ideals of the group of making Nordic walking accessible to as many people as possible in Leicestershire.
It is becoming more difficult as I began this as a volunteer in a community project and I am now having to build it into a business in order to create sustainability as it grows. I try to keep weekends free for family time but I realise, as I am getting more requests, that there are a lot of weekday working people out there who would also like to take part at weekends. Hence why I am trying to recruit more volunteers who might be able to lead weekend Nordic walks for the community group.
In Nordic walking - it's all about being local! People love finding out about accessible walks that are on their own doorstep that they never knew existed. It's also such a great way to share local knowledge about loads of things going on because you have the opportunity to walk and talk. We also seem to find loads of linkages between people which helps develop other interests and friendships.
As I moved to Leicestershire, just over three years ago, it has also helped me in a personal way discover more about where I live, some of the history behind places we walk and also about what's going on in those areas as well as make some really good friends.
It's not a straight path! The challenges you faced along the way
a) A lot of it is to do with money – courses are expensive, equipment is expensive – covering the cost of insurance and getting to and from venues – it all adds up.
b) Publicising what you are doing and how you are doing it so more people will take it up requires a lot of input and work. I probably spend at least two hours a day on the computer communicating with all sorts of people and trying to find new avenues to publicise Nordic walking and its benefits.
c) Setting up a new not-for-profit community group has been hard particularly when trying to open a bank account!
d) The worries of "Am I doing this right? Is someone going to tell me I'm wrong? Am I going to be sued if someone has an accident?"
a) I've learnt that getting to know key people is very useful when finding out about grants and offers of support and that people will help you if you are passionate about what you do.
b) I'm still learning on how to make publicity work best for our group but again networking helps and word of mouth is invaluable – so many people say they heard about it through someone who Nordic walks with me.
c) Never give up and you'll catch a break somewhere along the line!
d) Be up front with people about what you are trying to achieve for them and how you do things. Welcome input but rely on your training. Let people know they are responsible for their own safety but be there to assist in whatever ways you can. I'm happy to report I've had some wonderful feedback along the way that has really helped support me in what I do and the way I do it.
I've had the pleasure of working with some wonderfully inspiring people who have really helped me – Gaynor Nash at "Take the Lead", Jo Knight at "Women Today", Jessie Cooke at The Conservation Volunteers, Dave Cliffe at Voluntary Action Leicester – certainly without their help and support I would not have been able to do this.
I've continued to develop as a coach and learn more about my activity and its many benefits and I've received lots of feedback from my walkers about how it specifically helps them. One of the spin-offs from this is that I am now involved with working with more people with specific conditions and have also become part of the local Blaby, Oadby, Wigston and South Wigston (B.O.W.S.) Mental Health and Wellbeing Forum. All of this has really opened my eyes to just how beneficial physical exercise and activity can be in helping a whole myriad of illnesses and conditions.
But it is mainly the feedback I receive from my Nordic walkers that makes me look out my window whatever the weather (mostly) and think "How lucky I am that today I get the chance once again to be outside Nordic walking with others. Life just couldn't be better!"
How we can help people get into coaching from your own experience…
10.What would be the golden piece of advice you would give to people looking to coach based on what you've learnt from your time coaching?
Get some support from someone who has done some coaching (not necessarily in your sport/activity) so that you can turn to them to ask those relevant or worrying questions right at the start.
11.Are available support and resource who want to start out coaching and how they would approach it within your coaching sport.
Slightly confused over the wording of this question – but read it as
Are adequate support and resources available to those who want to start out coaching and how would they approach it within your coaching sport?
I certainly think more needs to be done to highlight and signpost for that initial encouragement and support for community coaches. Being invited to attend seminars where people can air their particular interests and then can receive some advice on how to obtain grants for equipment/money towards coaching certificates etc would be the first step. Lots of people start off as volunteers and they can't realistically be expected to put their hands in their own pockets to fund and kick start activities in their local area.
In Nordic walking, both Nordic Walking UK and British Nordic Walking offer training courses. Nordic Walking UK does offer a more business based approach and is supportive of their coaches in order to generate income but both companies are there to provide a service rather than work as a governing body. Hence why most of my support has come from those involved in other sports or from those with a role in managing volunteers.
I am certainly willing to pass on to others my own experiences and any support I can offer. I can be contacted through email@example.com
Posted: Sun, 11 Mar 2018 12:48 by Penny Fielden
I thought I ought to let everyone know how my project has been continuing from the original Take the Lead sessions back in early 2016! My name is Penny Fielden and I run Ministry of Nordic Walks.
The original premise was that with an ageing population there were not as many fitness activities around that might appeal - particular for older women. Therefore my aim was to teach a group of older women to Nordic walk in South Wigston and then set up a fortnightly walk for them. I am very glad to say this all went ahead pretty quickly, after I had become a Nordic walking instructor through the help and contacts provided by the Take the Lead team, and quickly became a weekly walk rising in the number of attendees.
Fast forward to almost two years since I passed my course and I have over 90 people on my weekly walk email list (including men) and I have established four weekly walks plus teaching courses and specialist sessions to meet a variety of needs. The walks have expanded out from South Wigston and have included Melton, Charwood and Blaby districts as well as the city. I am about to take it into Hinkley and Bosworth as well as North West Leicestershire over the next two months with the support of the councils there.
The main ethos continues that the walks are both a way to get fitter as well as a social get together and we all walk as a group - NO-ONE gets left behind!
When I think back to eventually turning up to Sport Park that first time (I had forgotten the map and had no sat-nav) and walking into that room I had absolutely no idea how much my life would be changed for ever nor indeed how that act would change others' lives too.
The Ministry of Nordic Walks Community Group is now on the look out for willing volunteers who would like to train to become Nordic walk leaders and help lead walks for those who are qualified to Nordic walk so taking this fitness activity even further in Leicestershire. Good Nordic walkers come in all shapes and sizes and AGES so please pass on my details to anyone who might be interested. In return for the free training and insurance costs, each volunteer would be expected to lead about 24 walks throughout the year in places local to them.
My contact details are: firstname.lastname@example.org or I can be reached on 07502 576764
I look forward to hearing more about how everyone else has been doing with their projects since we joined the Take the Lead gang.
Posted: Tue, 08 Aug 2017 14:33 by Natalia Marshall
Hi All. Some really great news for you... Sharon Tait recently took part in an interview for the Woman and Home magazine about her role as a volunteer and the running groups she leads.
Its a brilliant article and it's in the August edition which is on sale now so if you would like to see it quickly get yourself a copy! 'Take the Lead' gets a mention so thank you Sharon for that! Natalia x
Posted: Wed, 29 Mar 2017 16:10 by MRS Nichola Clooney
12 walk/jog/runners, plus two happy boys in buggies, took on a meet-and-retreat session around the Barton road/Manor road circuit this week.
High fives ✋ upon meeting your partner half way, then 'retreating' back the way you just came until you meet your buddy again! Everyone travels at their own pace and those who are more confident, run further and faster if they want to.
More new SGW2R members this week! Welcome Rachel and Kirstie (with Reggie!) who got stuck in and took on the challenge!
Well done everyone. I think there has been some real progress with some of our regulars too!
Same time next week, Tuesday 9:20am at the wheel.