Debbie Stokoe is hoping to breathe new life into networking in the north east.
The well-being practitioner has shifted the focus of her business recently to support small business owners and help them gain a healthy work/life balance.
Room to Breathe offers retreats, coaching and networking to help self-employed people rebalance and take better care of themselves.
One of the things she has introduced is a monthly netwalking event to encourage small business owners to leave their desks and get some fresh air and exercise.
When I saw the first one advertised on Debbie’s Twitter feed, I had to sign up – and I promised myself not to find a work-related excuse not to go!
I love walking and I’m lucky to have some of the best places to walk on my doorstep, yet I still find myself staying in all day to get work done while the kids are at school.
So some fresh air and exercise with fellow small business owners certainly appealed – as did the promise of a trip to Kiln afterwards!
We met outside The Copthorne Hotel in Newcastle and walked along the Quayside to Ouseburn.
It’s amazing how much more you see on foot – I spotted several heritage plaques I hadn’t seen before and grabbed a coffee from a cute little kiosk tucked away underneath the Swing Bridge.
Room to Breathe
Debbie set up her business after suffering workplace stress in her previous legal and teaching professions.
Her aim is to help others avoid the pitfalls.
She said: “In the past couple of years I’ve started to get a real appreciation of the outdoors.
“During the past two years of self-employment, I’ve also spent my fair share of time indoors behind a laptop and sometimes haven’t left the house all day.
“I realised how ill this was making me feel, and how much better I felt when I got out from behind the screens and spent time in nature.
“We know instinctively that we feel better spending time outdoors, but often we are pulled in all directions and a week goes by before we actually spend time outside.
“I wanted to create a monthly networking event where we could get outdoors, chat about our businesses and enjoy a nice scenic walk (around 30 minutes) before finishing at an independent cafe, where we can spend more time getting to know each other over a bite to eat or a drink.
“I’d read about walking networking in other parts of the country and thought ‘why not do this in the north east?’
“I’ll be hosting a monthly event lasting 1.5 to 2 hours, including the walk, in various places around the north east in 2018.”
I’m looking forward to the next event already! I felt so much better taking some time out and getting some fresh air and exercise.
My aching leg muscles later in the day proved it was much-needed and I certainly felt refreshed afterwards.
The bracing north east wind tends to have that effect!