Adding life to years
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Active Sunderland Wellness Walking Programme


The Active Sunderland Wellness Walking Programme has been running since September 2010. It consists of a series of weekly volunteer led Health and Nordic Walks that take place at various locations across Sunderland. The walks are accredited by the National Walking for Health Scheme and each walk lasts between 30 and 120 minutes. The walks are suitable for all ages, fitness levels and abilities, and are aimed at getting people active to improve their health and wellbeing.

The Programme has grown considerably thanks to the enthusiastic and reliable team of volunteers, without whom the walks would simply not take place. Many of these volunteers started out as walkers on the programme and were keen to support its development by becoming Walk Leaders.

The Programme is coordinated jointly by two paid members of staff who recruit, train and manage a team of (currently 29) Volunteer Walk Leaders to deliver fifteen walks every week to an annual audience of over 12,500 people.

The walks explore the diverse landscapes of Sunderland, ranging from the coast and riverside to local parks and urban areas, and are an excellent way to get out in the fresh air and meet new people.

The majority of people who participate in the walking programme are aged 50+ and this has been the case since its inception. The main reason for this is the accessible nature of the activity: free, low impact, low risk walking that takes place during the week.

There is a very strong social element to the programme. Lasting friendships have been forged amongst participants and Walk Leaders alike, to the extent that a number of the walkers organise walks away from the area and organise social gatherings like coffee mornings and Christmas lunches.


Key facts

Main target group: Older people in general

Other target group(s): Mental health groups; people who may not be getting recommended levels of exercise

Sector(s): Health, Social protection

Desired outcome for older people:
Be mobile

Other issues the Age-friendly practice aims to address:
  • Dementia
  • Healthy behaviours (e.g. physical activity)
  • Inclusion
  • Participation

Contact details

Name: Jane Hibberd

Email address:

Age-friendly practice in detail (click to expand):

Engaging the wider community
Moving forward
Looking back