People in Swindon are being encouraged to get active, set their own challenges and donate to the Wiltshire and Swindon Coronavirus Response Appeal.

Swindon Borough Council is asking residents to support Wiltshire Community Foundation’s coronavirus appeal after its own staff took up the challenge last month.

Since 10 May, council staff have been taking part in Every Kilometre Counts, a challenge to collectively reach 10,000km through exercise by 10 July.

While ensuring government exercise guidelines are followed, council staff have been contributing to the target by running, cycling and walking, while enjoying the benefits the additional exercise has had on their wellbeing.

This week, council staff reached their 10,000km target ahead of the 10 July date, with the aim to now reach as many kilometres as possible. Staff have commented on the time exercise has given them to clear their heads or unwind after a stressful day, as well as the boost of positive energy they feel afterwards.

As government lockdown restrictions are eased, the Council is hoping to encourage residents to get active themselves so they too can enjoy the mental and physical health benefits.

In addition to staying active during the pandemic, the Council is asking residents and staff to donate money towards Wiltshire Community Foundation’s appeal, via the Local Giving page.

The Wiltshire and Swindon Coronavirus Response Fund has already provided over £425,000 in grants to local community groups who are providing immediate relief to some of the county’s most vulnerable people. Grants are also helping local community groups to stay afloat at a time when they are facing severe financial challenges themselves due to loss of fundraised income and increased need for their support.

Staff taking part in the Every Kilometre Counts challenge have generously donated to the Community Foundation’s Coronavirus Appeal, with the current total reaching over £500. This number continues to rise as staff donate and encourage their friends and family to contribute to the appeal.

Councillor Brian Ford, Swindon Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Adults and Health, said: “At a time when many of us will be struggling with the challenges the pandemic has brought, council staff have benefited enormously from the mental and physical benefits exercise can have.

“Using this as inspiration to set their own exercise challenges and donate to the Wiltshire and Swindon Coronavirus Response Appeal, residents will be making an enormous difference to their own wellbeing and to the lives of vulnerable members of our town.”

Fiona Oliver, Interim Joint Chief Executive of Wiltshire Community Foundation, said: “The community response to the pandemic has been humbling and inspiring.  Community groups have provided essential support to many of our most vulnerable local people at a time when they are themselves battling financial and logistical difficulty.

“Our Wiltshire and Swindon Coronavirus Fund has now raised over £675,000, with an incredible £145,203.30 already awarded to 32 community groups in Swindon, helping an estimated 14,020 vulnerable people. We are receiving grant applications on a daily basis and increased support for the appeal will mean we can provide further funds where they are needed most.

“The generosity of council staff and Swindon residents who have donated to the appeal is making an incredible difference to the lives of real people living in Swindon. A heartfelt thank you to everyone taking part in the Every Kilometre Counts challenge and to all those who are supporting the appeal.”

Donations can be made to Wiltshire Community Foundation via the local giving page here.