Step Up Sunderland

Case Study

13th June 2023

Topic Health & Social Care, Living & Inclusion
Technology Healthtech
Sector Health & Social Care, Living & Inclusion

Building a healthy, happy city is a core part of our inspirational journey and one of three key pillars in our City Plan. Continuing health improvements and expanding community resources aim to underpin our goals to achieve a good quality of life in a health-supportive environment for all of our citizens.

Many of our residents, for varying reasons, are currently physically inactive or at the lower end of the recommended physical activity scale, which is known to be detrimental to health.

Walking is a key physical activity that can provide numerous positive health benefits to anyone who takes part, including:

  • weight management/reduction
  • improved mental health
  • reduction in certain health conditions
  • improvements in overall general physical health
  • maintenance of strength and balance, enabling more independence in older age

Best of all, walking is FREE and can be done by almost anyone, anywhere and at any time.



The Step Up Sunderland app was designed and launched in July 2019 with the key aim of encouraging residents to be more physically active by taking part in walking activities. The project was originally a one-year campaign, during which app users were challenged to walk and compete in their local area with the ability to view their achievements in a city-wide leader board.

As well as encouraging all Sunderland residents and those working in the city (schools, colleges, workplaces, individuals) to lead healthy lifestyles, Step Up Sunderland is one of many tools to assist people on the path to being active.

Step Up is a local campaign to raise awareness around the benefits of walking as a form of physical activity and targets those who are inactive/have low activity levels and may not have heard about the many other methods on the market (activity trackers etc.). Step Up acts as an initial stepping stone to support these people to become more active. Not just applicable to those with lower activity levels, the campaign encourages all Sunderland residents to download and use the app, regardless of their fitness levels and ability, as part of the new Step Up campaign which highlights its many beneficial features.

The app was reviewed in early 2020 and a survey was sent to its existing users. Due to the app’s success and the positive feedback received, it was agreed to review and develop the app further. This led to an evolution of the app’s functions, keeping it live for its current users and enhancing features to appeal to and attract more residents to get involved.

Work has been ongoing to further develop and improve the app and its functionality with a full comms and marketing plan to ensure the messages about the benefits of using the app and of its new functions are broadcast across the city.



The revision of the app saw its functions reviewed, making them even more beneficial and personalised to the user. Rather than create a hybrid mixture of the popular features of other existing activity/walking apps on the market, it was proposed that the app was to be developed further than its current state with the aim to encourage walking as a means of daily physical activity as well as retaining and engaging its current users.

The redesign of the app has continued to focus on supporting more people to become and remain active whilst encouraging and rewarding participants for taking part and improving, with users being able to monitor their personal activity levels.

The new app features for users include the ability to:

  • Track their own personal daily steps, see their step history and compare it for weekly, monthly and annual steps
  • Add their friends/family/colleagues and compete against them individually
  • Create their own team, compete against another team(s) and against all the teams via a city-wide leader board
  • See daily achievements for the steps they have walked
  • Earn badges for the steps they have walked and take part in regular walking challenges
  • View useful links to city events and other walking/physical activity opportunities
  • Receive rewards for being part of the Step Up Sunderland campaign

Over 4,000 residents are already using the app and are ‘Stepping Up’.

Please visit and/or download the app from the Google Play and Apple App stores.

A short video showing you how the app works can be found here: