A ‘Move in May’ towards wellbeing

Police Scotland’s Move in May National Team Championship Challenge is an annual event that started in 2021 to promote physical and mental wellbeing among police officers and staff, explains Gary Sergeant.


May 30, 2024
Gary Sergeant

The event involves teams challenging themselves to complete a range of physical activities throughout the month, with teams competing from across the whole organisation. The emphasis on a team challenge was to encourage group participation. The event is supported by the Scottish Police Recreation Association (SPRA), which provides prizes for the top 12 finishing teams across the country.

Move in May is unique as it is run as a grass roots event, managed by volunteers across Police Scotland. Now in its fourth year, it was initially created as part of wellbeing activity within Local Policing West and is sponsored by Assistant Chief Constable Steve Johnson.

Since then, it has evolved to encompass the whole organisation. This year just over 3000 colleagues are taking part. This is a fantastic achievement and testament to the efforts of all the volunteers who support the event, as well as the desire of colleagues to participate.

One of the reasons for the success of Move in May is that Police Scotland has created the space to allow this event to flourish. This can be evidenced in the fact it has grown organically without direction from senior leaders and at no financial cost to the organisation.

Crucially, Move in May strives to be an inclusive event. Colleagues from Police Scotland Disability & Carers Association have been instrumental in designing the rules and regulations, ensuring the event is accessible to all. The range of activities included means that being able bodied, and athleticism, are not prerequisites to a successful team. Fairness and inclusion are central pillars to ensuring all participants can partake and enjoy the event.

In her first year, Chief Constable Jo Farrell has committed to a National People Strategy for 2024-2027 and one of the key objectives is to prioritise wellbeing. In policing today our colleagues are without doubt our most valuable asset. It is important for everyone within policing to be mindful of their own wellbeing and for senior leaders to support the wellbeing of colleagues. As the national coordinator for this year’s team challenge, I feel privileged to be part of this worthy endeavour.

SPRA carried out a voluntary survey in 2023 to better understand participants motivations and experiences of Move in May. The survey had more than 1,000 respondents, which is remarkable and showed the willingness of colleagues to engage.

One of the most reported motivations for participants was that they wished to improve their overall physical fitness and participate with colleagues, with 96 per cent of participants stating they enjoyed Move in May.

Participants’ motivations ranged from having fun with colleagues, winning prizes, and improving physical fitness – 87 per cent of participants reported they planned to carry the momentum from Move in May forward in some way.

It wasn’t just physical fitness that was positively impacted by Move in May, but also participants’ sense of well-being, either individually or as part of the organisation.  Participants reported a range of positive wellbeing results including an overall sense of team cohesion, optimism, relaxation, and feelings of usefulness. Nearly every participant reported some wellbeing improvement.

As Move in May comes to close again for another year, I believe it is an example of why placing wellbeing front and centre of our organisational priorities is crucial. If we empower our people, our people will engage and our people will flourish.

Gary Sergeant is a Detective Inspector at Police Scotland’s Specialist Crime Division

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