Think Nature Health Walks, which will be managed by the Highland Third Sector Interface, has received grants from our Walking for Health Fund, supported by the Scottish Government, and our Smarter Choices Smarter Places Open Fund supported by Transport Scotland.
Alongside funding from the Highland Green Health Partnership (HGHP), the grants will support 10 existing weekly walking groups and establish new ones.
The funding will be used to employ a full-time Health Walk Coordinator to manage volunteer-led Health Walks in Ballachulish, Caol, Dunvegan, Lochalsh and South Skye, Portree, Spean Bridge, Thurso, Tongue and Wick and create new groups in Caithness, Sutherland, Skye, Lochalsh, Wester Ross and Lochaber.
They will also provide training for the existing independent groups in Brora and Dunbeath.
The walking project fits neatly with the HGHP’s aims to develop green health referrals with GPs to prescribe walking as a health intervention, working in partnership with local organisations.
Ailsa Villegas, Senior Health Development Officer with the HGHP, said
The key aim of the Partnership is to encourage daily contact with nature for improved health and wellbeing, and walking is one of the easiest ways of achieving this. Time outdoors can improve our physical and mental health, and walking as part of a group creates social connections that tackle loneliness - something that has a significant impact on the wellbeing of people living in remote and rural areas.
Health walks are a short, safe, fun and accessible activity led by trained volunteers on a weekly basis. They last between 30 minutes and 1 hour and are tailored to the needs of participants. The walks will be designed to encourage daily journeys, building the strength and confidence of participants to leave the car behind and walk independently to the shops, pharmacy, GP practice or leisure centre in their locality.
The advert for the Coordinator post is now live at: https://www.highlandtsi.org.uk/vacancies and the deadline for applications is Friday, 28th February.
Elsewhere in Highland, the P4W Walk project has also recruited a new full-time Coordinator to support 17 Health Walk groups in Inverness and the wider area, from Tain in the north to Tomatin in the south, Strathpeffer in the west to Nairn in the east.
And the Active Cairngorms Health Walks project manages 16 health walk groups across the Cairngorms National Park. The three Project Coordinators will work together where possible to maximise resources.
To find your nearest Health Walk, click here