The Mason Mile Comes To London

The Family Mile is a Sport England funded well-being initiative, striving to challenge health inequalities and offering that first step to activity for people who may, otherwise, feel exercise is not for them. Delivered in (and by) local communities, The Family Mile is rolling out in some London boroughs in 2021 and will be coordinating with local schools, councils, businesses, and exercise groups to empower the hardest to reach communities to become more active.

The Mason Foundation was born from Stephen Mason’s drive to deliver a solution for what he saw, was becoming an increasingly inactive nation. The ripple effects of this inactivity were clearly translating across Britain in rising obesity levels, poor state of wellbeing, and a huge strain on the NHS. With continuing increases in economic and social inequalities, The Family Mile was designed to offer a simple solution and empower disadvantaged families to live happier and healthier lives, all by doing ‘Their Mile, Their Way’!

We are a national charity, funded by Sport England and match funded by our equally committed partners to deliver our Family Mile across 6 localities in the South East and London. Excitingly, we are already mobilising in Maidstone, Thanet, and Medway, and beginning to mobilise in Southwark, Thamesmead, and Islington! We are delighted to be partnering with local organisations who harbour the same aspirations as us, with this shared ethos meaning we can operate not just on a national level but also on a local level, allowing us to provide important, on the ground engagement.

Our initial pilot year in Maidstone saw great success, with up to 300 members of the community showing up to do ‘Their Mile, Their Way’! Funded by Sport England and match funded by our driven local partner, Golding Homes, we successfully created a thriving Family Mile community – with 84% of families reporting that they were more active since joining The Family Mile.

We are proud to say that in 2019/20, we have reached over 50,000 people in the South-East, addressing some of the hardest to reach areas of health inequality. Despite the challenges this year has brought, we have kept the community spirit alive through social media – delivering virtual workouts and wellbeing tips to families at a time when they needed it most. More recently, after weeks of training, we celebrated the first of our Ambassador led walks in Maidstone. Our Ambassador training programme will give local people the skills and confidence they need to deliver safe and inclusive walks; meaning that The Family Mile can continue to be delivered after the initial funding has ended. Our triumph in Maidstone paved the way for the growth of The Family Mile, securing us further Sport England funding and match funding to expand further across Kent and London.

As we continue to gather momentum, we are incredibly excited to be bringing The Family Mile to London! We have partnered with L&Q, Peabody Trust, and Vinci Construction to roll out The Family Mile in various boroughs of London. We have implemented a strategic plan to have all these localities up and running by the start of summer, with recruitment and Ambassador training unfolding over the first few months of 2021 – starting with Southwark, followed by Thamesmead and then Islington.

In 2012, the capital of our country was inspired by the power of sport in the London Olympics. The Family Mile aims to recapture this motivation, encouraging people to do ‘Their Mile, Their Way’! This notion forms an undercurrent of our initiative and was a strong theme within our second lockdown campaign. As a result of the winter lockdown, we were concerned what this would mean for people’s mental health and felt it was paramount to help encourage individuals to take part in regular activity. Hence the hashtag #MyMileMyWay was born. This hashtag was essentially a tool to help people get outdoors, with the campaign encouraging people to upload a picture of their walk, use this hashtag and nominate their friends to do the same – creating a domino-like effect. The campaign received some fantastic traction, with the likes of World Record holding race walker Tom Bosworth getting on board, along with GB Paralympian Kylie Grimes, and Instagram powerhouse thehappinessprojectuk.

Whilst still only in our infancy, our delivery of The Family Mile alongside this dynamic campaign highlights our spirit and commitment to making a difference to those who need it most. Now, we are looking forward to bringing our determination to London and working with likeminded organisations to deliver The Family Mile across the capital and beyond!