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Sole Sister wins national walking prize

A charity worker from Fife in Scotland has won the first ever Scottish Walking Awards in recognition of a local migrant support group she runs.

Magdalena Augustyn-Lygas (left in photo) has been coordinating the ‘Sole Sisters’, a group which aims to help migrants improve their English language skills through walking, as well as boost their health and social life.

Magdalena beat more than 160 entries to the top prize and also scooped the Community Walking Champion award, alongside nine other category winners including Most Improved Walking Place and Healthcare Professional Walking Champion.

During a year when walking became increasingly important to our mental health, judges praised the work that Magdalena and her Sole Sisters group did in supporting health, social connection and wellbeing. Organisers also singled out the Fife charity worker for working tirelessly to keep the group going during the pandemic.

The Sole Sisters community group brings together migrants and the local community in Kirkcaldy and Dunfermline, providing regular walks and ‘conversation cafes’, which supports migrants to make friends in the local area and build their confidence in speaking English.

Magdalena believes that the local initiative has also been important in helping to build social cohesion and reducing isolation, especially during the pandemic.

Magdalena said:

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.

The competition was organised by Paths for All, Ramblers Scotland, and Living Streets, and culminated in National Walking Month. The initiative is part of the National Walking Strategy Delivery Forum, a legacy project from the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games which aims to improve the health and wellbeing of Scotland. Its Chairman Craig McLaren said:

The range of projects nominated for the first Scottish Walking Awards shows that there is fantastic work happening all over Scotland, with community projects at the heart of a movement to get people walking.

Photo by Living Streets