This summer the UK has experienced prolonged periods of hot and sunny weather, with some areas being subject to record high temperatures. This weather has led to a number of Brits swapping their usual car commutes to work for more ‘old-fashioned’, sustainable forms of transport such as walking and cycling.
The Spire Bristol Hospital staff are no different, and we have witnessed a sharp rise in the numbers of people willing to ditch their cars for a brisk walk or cycle to and from work.
The hot weather has not however been the only contributing factor to these new motivations. We found that staff attitudes have been changing, and many more are beginning to see the wider benefits of making their own way to work.
The health conscious among you may point to the fact that taking part in regular exercise helps you to feel better about yourself, and attribute the rise in walking and cycling to a desire to improve general fitness and well-being. Besides, it does tend to be this time of year where many of us start to watch our calorie intake, and put in that extra bit of effort to achieve those seasonal ‘beach bodies’.
It wouldn’t therefore be untrue to link the combination of good weather and healthy lifestyles to this rise in physical exercise; however a quick survey of hospital staff uncovered some interesting insights which help paint the bigger picture.
We found Spire staff’s general attitudes towards society and the environment have changed, and when asked why they cycle or walk to work, alleviating congestion and considering the environment where among the most highly ranked responses, along with keeping fit and the good weather.
This was a view shared by Chris Loverock, Physiotherapist at Spire Bristol Hospital, who was quoted saying, “although there are numerous health benefits to cycling, running and walking to work, it is also important to think of the environment before jumping into a car for a bike ride that only takes 15 minutes”.
There are currently over 50 Spire staff that take part in the cycle2work scheme, a figure which only represents a proportion of the total numbers of staff who cycle and walk to work on a daily basis. Business Development Executive, Oliver Capel spoke of how staff were encouraged to get involved in the scheme, “the hospital provides coloured staff car parking passes which entitle you to 1 week a month of onsite parking to help inspire people to leave their cars at home and get on a bike”. Oliver went on to describe how the scheme worked well as it “prevented overfilling of the car park so that there was always room for patients who needed it”.
The hospital’s commitment to social responsibility has also been demonstrated by its staff’s involvement in numerous fundraising activities to raise money for chosen charities. For example, last year our Chief Engineer Alan Sheppard, along with other SBH staff, cycled across the Great Wall of China, raising over £34,000 for the British Heart Foundation.
SBH is also a proud sponsor of the annual Run for the Future family fun run on the Clifton Downs, which raises money for prostate cancer. Each year SBH staff participate in the run, while hospital consultants and nurses take free blood samples from runners and spectators for PSA testing, which are then used to detect any early signs of prostate cancer.
Our charity of the year Great Western Air Ambulance, received a total of £4963 through funds raised by hospital staff in 2012.
The notion of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has increasingly become a central concept in the subject of marketing and business, and although perceived by some as just another fashionable marketing buzzword, CSR is without a doubt considered to be a key element of most modern day organisational strategies.
Our hospital director Rob Anderson was clear to affirm this point of view, stating the importance of getting staff involved and thinking about their local community and environment. “We take great pride in the work we do for our local community, whether that be by sponsoring local charities like the Great Western Air Ambulance, or by encouraging our staff to leave their cars at home and cycle to work. It is the responsibility of all organisations to consider their impacts on society, and this starts by educating and involving each and every member of staff”.