Health Walks offer people-centered community support

Health Walk groups can play a significant role in developing social inclusion and cohesion in both rural and urban communities due to their committed Volunteer Walk Leaders.

Tongue Health Walk Group
Milan Senior Welfare Organisation, Edinburgh

All Walk Leaders are trained by Paths for All to give a friendly welcome and offer person-centered support as necessary on walks.

Many volunteers also include strength and balance exercises alongside the walks to increase walker mobility and functional fitness. They may also decide to arrange days out, lunches, talks and litter picks as their group develops over time. These activities vary from group to group and are completely optional.  

It is more than a walking group for myself and my adult son who is autistic. It’s a fun, safe way to meet new friends.

During the pandemic, many Health Walk groups demonstrated their commitment to active citizenship when their walks were stopped, by keeping in touch with their walkers and helping with their shopping.

Volunteers with Tongue Health Walk in the remote far north of Scotland, which is part of the Think Nature Health Walks project, are one such group who sent emails, telephoned walkers, and set up buddy walks matching leaders to walkers to help prevent loneliness.

Establishing these links during lockdown helped many walkers cope with the psychological effects of the pandemic and they were then keen to return to their Health Walk when restrictions eased. 

I was a bit depressed during lockdown but the walks have done me the world of good.

In Edinburgh two Health Walk projects were featured in the RSE Post-Covid-19 Futures Commission - Inclusive Public Service project that identified activities that promote and enable self-directed care and community support.

Their Life is for Living film hears from walkers with Milan Senior Welfare Organisation and Carr Gorm’s Craigmillar Community Grows project. It focuses on how their walks enable social inclusion for ethnic minorities and those living with long term health conditions who have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic. 

Watch the Life is for Living film below.

The safe trusted space created by volunteers on Health Walks is one of the many reasons why at Paths for All we believe walking is the best buy for public health. 

We think walking and wheeling can play a significant role in tackling physical inactivity, poor mental wellbeing, health and transport inequalities and the climate emergency.

Read our new strategy – Step It Up for more information. 

Find out more about our Scottish Health Walk Network projects featured in this story:

Tongue Health Walk 

Think Nature Health Walks - who we fund with our Walking for Health and Smarter Choices, Smarter Places Open Fund grants

Milan Senior Welfare Organisation

Carr gorm Craigmillar Community Grows