Fife charity worker named overall champion in Scottish Walking Awards
A Fife charity worker who runs a walking group to help migrants boost their health, social life and spoken English has been named as the first-ever overall champion of the Scottish Walking Awards.
The panel of expert judges were wowed by Magdalena Augustyn-Lygas’ successful coordination of Sole Sisters community health walk project, run by Fife Migrants Forum.Magdalena scooped the Community Walking Champion and Overall Champion titles, following more than 160 entries being submitted to ten categories earlier this spring.Nominations included everything from businesses, councils, land managers and housing associations to the journalists, staff and local volunteers who are inspiring others to step out.Lee Craigie, who is Scotland’s Active Nation Commissioner and chaired the judges, said: “Magdalena, and the wider Sole Sisters project, champion the impact that walking can have on health, social connection and wellbeing in all that they do. We were incredibly impressed by Magdalena’s focus on ensuring the benefits of walking reach a truly diverse audience, and keeping it going during the pandemic.”
The Sole Sisters project brings together women from the migrant and local community through walks in Kirkcaldy and Dunfermline, providing regular health walks and conversation cafes, enabling participants to make social connections and build confidence speaking English.
During the pandemic, Magdalena has worked tirelessly to keep the project going, organising online workshops and group activities wherever restrictions allowed.
Recently, she has supported the Scottish Health Walk Network to translate Paths for All’s health walk advice into nine new languages to reach even more people across Scotland.Magdalena said: “I am delighted to win this award. The project has been really important for reducing barriers to walking for migrant women, increasing cultural understanding and reducing isolation, and increasing physical and mental well-being.“While it has been challenging to keep the work going during the pandemic, we are so pleased with what the project has been able to achieve. Sole Sisters is not only about walking, but also about building strong, lasting relationships within the community.”
Ten other individuals, companies and projects were named as category winners for their efforts to support people to walk more including Ross Cunningham as Media/Online Walking Champion. He has had great success using his Mountains Mend Minds social media platform to help people improve their mental health through hill walking.