Update on Walking for Health services
Ramblers, Macmillan and Natural England have been working hard to ensure that there is no break in essential services to health walks schemes during the handover. Some other services have been suspended since late 2011 as staff left Natural England. Ramblers is now working to restore these, but we will not be able to do so immediately as we are still recruiting our staff team.
Some procedures and details have also changed following the handover. This document explains the current status of each key service, and notifies any changes. If you have any urgent questions that are not answered below, please contact us and we will do our best to answer them. Thank you for your patience during the handover period.
These have now changed to
Walking for Health national centre
2nd Floor, 89 Albert Embankment
London SE1 7TW
Telephone: 020 7339 8541
Post sent to the previous Natural England address will be forwarded for a while but please start using the new address immediately.
A referral is in place on the old web address but this will not remain indefinitely, so please start using the new web address now.
Trained Volunteer Walk Leaders are now covered by Ramblers civil liability insurance, which provides equivalent cover to the Natural England insurance. The procedure is essentially the same as previously, though Report Forms related to incidents taking place on or after 1 April should now be returned to the new national centre address. Note that incidents taking place before 1 April are covered by the Natural England insurance so report forms relating to incidents before this date should still go to them.
Access to the database has been retained throughout and existing login details should still work. However please note the web address has changed to http://database.walkingforhealth.org.uk.
Before handing over the database, Natural England took steps to ensure data was still current and walkers were happy with their details being handed over. This included writing two letters to people on the database who were recorded as having been recently active. The response to these letters was extremely good and most current walker records have been retained. However, some records have inevitably been deleted, because walkers weren’t shown as currently active, or didn’t respond to the letters, or didn't fill in the tickboxes clearly, or refused to give permission to hand over their details.
Some people wrote additional comments on their responses including messages that they asked Natural England to pass on to schemes. Unfortunately Natural England has been unable to take any action on these due to the large numbers of letters, and only the responses to the tickboxes were processed.
We regret that we now only have access to the records handed over by Natural England and cannot retrieve deleted data. If active walkers have disappeared from the database, the only option is to get them to fill in a new Outdoor Health Questionnaire (OHQ) and re-enter their details.
Please ensure all walkers fill out the current version of the OHQ. which names the Ramblers as the new data controller. For data protection reasons, you should not re-enter data from old OHQs you have stored as hard copies, as these only give permission to Natural England to control the data.
Both Ramblers and Macmillan recognise the value of the database in managing and evaluating health walks, and are committed to retaining it as a key service. However later this year we plan to review the current systems for collecting and storing data, with a view to reducing the paperwork and data collection burden if this is possible while retaining its usefulness and effectiveness.
The system for awarding new accreditations and renewing existing ones was suspended late in 2011. We plan to reintroduce this system at the earliest opportunity. In the meantime we will continue to recognise accreditations awarded by Natural England, even if they are overdue for renewal.
See the latest update on training.
Natural England reduced its stocks of materials in preparation for the handover, and very little stock has been handed on to us. We have some supplies of the following items:
- How to set up a health walks scheme
- Cascade Trainer packs (limited stock)
- Unbranded hi-vis tabards in a variety of sizes
- Walking for Health DVDs
Please contact us if you have a need for any of these items.
We are currently reviewing materials and will not be able to restock immediately. However there are a variety of resources available to download online.
An interim graphic for use on locally produced materials has been introduced.
Ramblers is currently recruiting a number of regionally based development officers – we have invited expressions of interest from other organisations to host these posts. However please note that there will be far fewer regional support staff than when Department of Health investment in Walking for Health was at its peak, and they will have to work in a very targeted way with reduced levels of contact with many local schemes. Please look out for further details of our regional workshops which will provide an initial opportunity for scheme coordinators to meet with national centre staff.
Ramblers and Macmillan are keen that Walking for Health continues to provide short, easy health walks for everyone. In the coming years we plan to improve and develop the scheme, increasing the numbers participating, making closer links with the NHS and health service referrals, increasing takeup of health walks by people with long term conditions such as cancer, enhancing support both for volunteers and scheme coordinators, helping ensure schemes are robust and creating better pathways for walkers into and out of schemes, including closer links with local Ramblers.