Folkestone sports charity offers annual leave for 1,000 hours of exercise

Contributed by editor on Oct 03, 2017 - 04:55 PM


By Rhiannon Dance

It’s 9.00am on an Autumnal Monday morning and I’m walking through the car park of Three Hills Sports Park in Folkestone - but I’m not just out for a stroll, I’m joining the weekly team briefing for Shepway Sports Trust, a not-for-profit charity based on the Kent coast.


‘Work’ at Shepway Sports Trust covers a huge variety of areas, from delivering school sports sessions to community outreach - bringing sport and social opportunities to key target groups (such as over 50s, families and refugees).


The charity covers every aspect of sport in the local community, giving support and guidance to beginners and elite athletes alike.

With a team of eight core staff, it can often be difficult to get the team in one room at the same time; some team members are out delivering sports sessions, whilst others are office-based, applying for grants, updating the website or designing and promoting sessions. “It’s a brilliant and vibrant team” says Marketing Manager, Rhiannon Dance, “but we often find that some staff are sat down more than others and we are keen to practice what we preach."

Following in the footsteps of a recent Swedish initiative, Shepway Sports Trust is now offering contracted staff the opportunity to earn extra annual leave by exercising for three hours a week.

“As a charity, we are limited in terms of the monetary benefits we can provide for staff, but the new ‘Project 1000’ is an opportunity for the team to work together and earn extra holiday,” says Chief Executive, Laurence Hickmott, pictured left.

Team members are encouraged to use the Kent Sport and Lottery Funded ‘Workplace Challenge’ website to log hours and support colleagues: the challenge is only completed if every team member completes and logs their hours.

The Trust is providing every opportunity for Project 1000 to succeed - from ‘walking meetings’ to a lunchtime Pickleball league; staff can accumulate hours and learn new skills along the way.

It has long been said that ‘sitting is the new smoking’, with office-workers some of the most vulnerable to the sedentary creep of increased technological reliance.

Research has found that prolonged inactivity is responsible for an increased risk of a multitude of serious illnesses, from Heart Disease to Type 2 Diabetes.

Big, corporate firms with matching budgets are often reported to use ‘standing desks’ or provide expensive yoga lessons for staff, even paying for gym memberships.


“Shepway Sports Trust want to show that budget should be irrelevant: small businesses and charities can also offer staff the opportunity to get active at work” says Hickmott.

Giving staff the encouragement and opportunity to get away from their desks and be active at regular intervals has been proven to improve productivity, reduce stress and promote wellness within teams.

Project 1000 is just another example of Shepway Sports Trust’s commitment to the community, businesses and individuals.

In 2015 the charity pioneered the award-winning ‘Tri-Fusion Netball’, a lunchtime sport project, which was held on pop-up netball courts at Ashford-based Holiday Extras.


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