A Nottinghamshire based Ramblers group has been awarded funding to support them in tackling social isolation in their community by helping more people to experience the joy of walking.
With other local Ramblers groups, they are keen to promote the health and wellbeing benefits of walking to their wider community. Working with the local Move & Mingle group and Vale of Belvoir Ramblers, Rushcliffe Ramblers applied for a grant from Rushcliffe Borough Council’s Reach Rushcliffe Fund, launched to support initiatives that aim to tackle loneliness and social isolation.
The group felt that the project was particularly important following the COVID-19 lockdown, during which more people might have been feeling isolated and anxious, especially those living alone.
Trevor Griffiths, publicity officer for Rushcliffe Ramblers, said: “This funding is ideal to help us to do what we want to do; make sure that people who may be isolated at home know that they can join an active group to get healthy and meet people out in the fresh air.
“Our health walks are perfect for people who might be recovering from an illness or have perhaps been struggling with their mental health during these difficult times. To be able to promote them further with the Reach fund is fantastic. We look forward to meeting more people from our local community.”
The group have used the money to produce leaflets – which they will distribute in libraries and doctors’ surgeries - to publicise in particular their shorter, accessible walks aimed at people who would like to get out walking but might struggle to do longer walks.
Councillor Debbie Mason, Deputy Leader of Rushcliffe Borough Council said: “This application really shone through, the Rushcliffe Ramblers were very keen to widen their group to people who perhaps hadn’t walked as much, by offering different types of walks for people who had perhaps been socially isolated.
“The walk I went on was lovely – some might be put off by the thought that the Ramblers do very long walks, but this was targeted at people who might not be able to walk as far and really emphasised the social aspect of walking. You probably talk more when you’re walking than just sitting face to face with someone.”
Angela Dobie, a long-time member of Rushcliffe Ramblers, was motivated to apply for the fund because of her own positive experience of the support the group has provided over the years.
She explained: “For people who might be feeling isolated, the combination of exercise whilst chatting to other people in beautiful surroundings can really create a feeling of belonging, happiness and wellbeing. Walking and talking is really good therapy and I can vouch for that from personal experience; firstly, when I was juggling work and the demands of three elderly parents, then becoming a grandparent for the first time and more recently becoming a widow.
“Many Ramblers members have become my close friends and have helped me through all these situations mostly by just listening whilst enjoying the exercise and the countryside, and I’m truly grateful for that.”
Rushcliffe Ramblers and other local groups they are working with have a wide and varied programme of regular walks to suit all abilities, from 30-minute health walks, to walks of 12 miles or more.
To find out more visit the Rushcliffe Ramblers webpage. The group are currently running a booking system for walks, to ensure COVID-19 guidelines are complied with.