On Walk and Talks, our friendly support worker leads groups of carers on walks, offering a listening ear and providing information to help in a caring role.
Here, Carmen Rodriguez, Walk & Talk Project Manager, reflects on a successful first twelve months for the project:
In a world often full of responsibilities, it is easy for carers to feel isolated and overwhelmed.
Recognising this challenge, the Walk and Talk service was introduced a year ago with a simple goal: bringing carers together while enjoying a walk in nature. As we celebrate the first year of the service, we reflect on its impact on carers’ wellbeing.
Over the course of this year, the service has made its mark by organising walks where carers can connect with fellow carers while enjoying a gentle walk in a beautiful green area. With 15 walks groups organised, the service has attracted over 100 carers, providing them with a space to share their stories, experiences and challenges. These walks have been more than just physical exercise – they have been a lifeline for many who felt isolated in their caring role.
What is even more encouraging is that the impact of these walks does not end when the session concludes. Remarkably, more than half of the carers who initially joined a group have continued walking alongside other carers, showing the lasting connections created through the service. These connections have even led to the creation of an advanced walking group, where carers enjoy longer or more challenging routes.
Walk and Talk has also shown its commitment to embracing diversity and inclusivity. We understand that carers come from diverse backgrounds, each with their own unique needs. That is why we took the initiative to organise specific walks tailored to Chinese carers or for the carers with the person they care for. These walking groups have not only enriched their own lives but also those of the individuals they care for. By tailoring the walks to these unique needs, the service has proven its commitment to ensuring that every carer finds a supportive community that understands their journey.
We also organised taster sessions, allowing new carers to dip their toes into the walks. These sessions acted as stepping stones for those who were uncertain about their fitness levels or anxious about joining a group. The success of these sessions speaks to the welcoming and supporting environment the service provides.
The achievements of the Walk and Talk service go far beyond just physical activity. The impact on carers’ wellbeing and sense of isolation has been remarkable. Many participants have expressed that these walks have supplied a lifeline, a precious opportunity to have a break from their caring role and appreciate the beauty of our surroundings. In these walks, carers have not only discovered wildlife but have also nurtured relationships and their own spirits.
The success of the Walk and Talk service owes much to the dedicated walk leader and volunteers who have made it a reality. Together, they have created a safe space where carers can share their experiences and find friendship and support. Our walk leader also plays a vital role in ensuring that carers are aware of the services available to them, supporting them in their caring roles.
This service has become a living testament to the idea that the simplest of activities can yield the most profound transformations. Walking side by side, sharing stories and appreciating nature’s beauty together have led to a sense of solidarity.
As we celebrate this first year, we anticipate a second year filled with more walks, more stories and a bigger group of carers who walk together, talk together and find solace in each other’s company. Hopefully, we will see better weather for future walks, although we firmly believe that the joy of walking and the power of conversation should not be limited by bad weather. So, don’t let a little rain stop you from joining one of our groups!