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A new Active Travel programme entitled Leading the Way has just been launched for Newry, Mourne and Down employees who work in Newry and Downpatrick. It aims to encourage more people to commute to work by walking, cycling and staying active if working from home. 

Sustrans, the walking and cycling charity, will work with a number of workplaces to help them embed active and sustainable travel into their organisation, by supporting employees to commute more actively or become more physically active at home. Leading the Way is delivered by Sustrans on behalf of the Public Health Agency and funded through the COVID-19 Recovery Revitalisation fund from the Department for Infrastructure, Department for Communities and Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs in partnership with Newry, Mourne and Down District Council.

Council Support Staff in the District to Take a Step Closer to Active Travel

As Northern Ireland begins to ease restrictions and learns to live with impact of COVID-19, many employers are considering how they can support their staff to return to the workplace safely.  Staff from workplaces including Daisyhill and Downe Hospital, South Regional College, NI Fire and Rescue Service and the Council can take part in in a wide range of free activities. These include online training sessions for beginner and returning cyclists such as Bike Ready webinars, and when regulations allow cycle training, led rides and walks and e-bike try outs.

Newry, Mourne and Down District Council Chairperson, Councillor Laura Devlin said, “We are delighted to deliver this exciting Active Travel programme in partnership with the Public Health Agency and Sustrans and working with the local organisations involved. Our employees have a desire to return to a new and improved ‘normal’ following the COVID-19 lockdowns and the Leading the Way programme will help us all be more active, which can only be a positive outcome for both health and the environment.” 

Sustrans Director, Caroline Bloomfield said, “It is a significant step forward for workplaces in the Newry, Mourne and Down District Council area to invest not only in their employees’ health and wellbeing but also to address issues such as sustainability and air pollution.  These workplaces are indeed leading the way and we hope other organisations will follow suit.

"We have been working with the Council and recently undertook an online public consultation on how active travel could be improved in the district. We had an overwhelming response which shows there is a thirst for change and look forward to working with the Council and its residents in a greener recovery post pandemic.”

Research shows that commuting more actively can benefit both physical and mental health, in turn resulting in happier and more productive staff. The Leading the Way programme has been delivered successfully in Belfast and Derry/Londonderry since 2014. Employers have found that workforce active travel has increased by 5.1%, cycling has risen nearly 5%, car use reduced by over 10% and physical activity recorded in a 2018 study showing a 9.1% increase in respondents taking at least 150 minutes of physical activity per week.

For further information about the Leading the Way programme please visit WWW.SUSTRANS.ORG.UK

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