Walking challenge raises money and boosts mental health

By Editor
26th January 2021

Members of Sanofi in the UK and Ireland have collectively walked up and down the UK the equivalent of nine times in a charity challenge also aimed at improving morale.

At the beginning of a gloomy and cold early winter, faced with an impending second lockdown, members of the Sanofi UK and Ireland Leadership team decided it was time to get their employees moving and boost their mental health for a great cause.

Our steps could support people in need while boosting our own mental health, morale and sense of unity. General Manager Jessamy Baird

As a result, 254 colleagues joined the challenge whereby every mile walked, Sanofi would contribute £1. In total Sanofi colleagues walked 8,027 miles and Sanofi agreed to round up the contribution by donating £10,000 split between 2 charities; Trinity Homeless Projects and Launchpad Reading.

Titled ‘Walking Army of Hope’, the challenge took place during the last two weeks of the second lockdown. Colleagues were encouraged to move away from their computer screens and go for a walk in a bid to combat “ZOOM burnout”, improve wellbeing and mental health. Steps were tracked through their phone.

Jessamy Baird, General Manager, General Medicines, commented: “As we got towards the end of the summer, there was this sense of the same routine and a loss of energy, but I could feel that people were still trying to work hard. I thought, we need to get outside of our normal, day-to-day work and get outside during daytime.

A picture taken during the challenge by Becky Reeve, Head of Professional Relations.

“At first, what we did was force into the calendar a couple of hours a week to be blocked for Fresh Air and Daylight (FAD hours) and just said to people ‘go out and walk the dog, just stop doing ZOOM for an hour’. Fortunately, people really got behind it and it really spread across Sanofi’s teams and then we all started posting photos of ourselves going for walks at 11.30am. But this was not enough! So, we took a further step and initiated a challenge which had a bigger cause. Our steps could support people in need while boosting our own mental health, morale and sense of unity.”

Nicole Farmer, General Manager, Sanofi Genzyme said: “It’s been fantastic to work with Jess and the team on this initiative. We know from our work with patient groups how much mental well-being impacts physical health, and vice versa. This initiative has been a great way to bring our teams together virtually, and unite towards our purpose of empowering lives, whether those lives are our people, our patients, or the homeless in our city.”

This led to a “WhatsApp frenzy” as the challenge created healthy competition across the company, leading to people going for 5am walks as well as two-hour evening strolls.

The challenge was part of Sanofi’s commitment to supporting employees through a difficult year as well as supporting our community in this challenging environment.

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