Stepping into Spring walking group was created by a local mentor organisation, Hopeful Families. Hopeful Families is a flexible community programme designed to help participants overcome whatever challenges they face. Run by Pluss and community partners such as Halifax Opportunities Trust, it is joint funded by National Lottery Community Fund and European Social Fund, helping families manage the tough times and build a brighter future.
The COVID-19 pandemic saw a greater need for community groups and organisations to change how they reach their members. Like many, Hopeful Families quickly adapted their services through Zoom to continue to offer much-needed help to those who were isolated, lonely, afraid and demotivated.
As the world began to re-open and restrictions started to ease, Hopeful Families worked closely with Active Calderdale, and through our support, identified a need for outdoor social activities.
That's when we saw the start of Step into Spring, a walking group with one goal in mind: to increase opportunities for people to meet informally and discuss their worries, concerns, and barriers.
A safe space.
What started as an idea has now grown in popularity, with an average of 15 attendees on each walk!
The group is delivered through Hopeful families, Halifax Opportunities Trust and Active Calderdale, with the support of partners such as the Early Intervention in Psychosis Service and NHS Mental Health Service. We pride ourselves on a positive, flexible approach, ensuring the best possible service for individuals whilst working towards similar core values and missions, enabling our service users to live well in the community.
The additional support throughout the partnership has allowed each participant to access one-to-one care during all outdoor activities.
Step into Spring walkers have praised the walking group as a safe space to speak, to feel part of a non-judgmental group, and an opportunity to come out of comfort zones. Other walkers have expressed further benefits like keeping active, getting fit, losing weight and generally having fun.
One centre member told us,:
"I now feel confident. My fitness levels have risen, and I feel able to explore other external activities that I wouldn't have necessarily considered, such as kayaking, paddle boarding or even having a go at a climbing wall!"
It doesn't stop there. Hopeful Families have recognised the huge impact that this walking group has had on each of their members, and are already developing plans for the future, including how they can further encourage and promote more outdoor walking in a way that allows sessions to be inclusive and easy for all to enjoy.
When speaking with Hopeful Families, we asked, 'What have you learned that you could share with others?' Their answer is an invaluable response that we can all use to support those around us to move more.
"Walking is an inclusive activity that should be enjoyed by all however due to certain conditions and lack of self-confidence, this is often a barrier for individuals hence why they need extra support to take the first step. Once they've had the opportunity to experience an outdoor walk, individuals usually always come back for more having experienced first-hand the many benefits that walking offers us."
Are you feeling inspired to set up a walking group in your area? Active Calderdale can support you! contact email@example.com to begin our partnership.