New walk is finding its feet

A new walk for the blind and partially-sighted community is finding its feet in East Lothian.

Shona with guide dog Matt
RNIB Musselburgh Walk

The RNIB Welcome Walk in Musselburgh takes place every other Thursday when walkers enjoy a 45-minute stroll along the promenade.

Despite just starting up, it’s already attracted a core of 10 regular walkers, and there are hopes those numbers will grow as word of the new walk spreads.

The walks are led by trained Walk Leader Shona Black who is visually-impaired herself but is faithfully accompanied by her guide dog Matt.

Shona said:

People have been hit so badly with lockdown and many have lost their confidence.
Something like getting out for a walk is a great way to get things going again.
Making sure people feel safe is very important when they have lost confidence. Our walks are often quite small in numbers and sometimes people like that. 
When you have been isolated, the thought of going out on a walk with lots of different people can be quite daunting so I think I’d like to keep the numbers small and just have more walks rather than one big group.
It’s a nice way for everyone to have the chance to get to know each other.

In her previous job with Cycling UK, Shona trained as a Walk Leader just before the first lockdown in March 2020.

Following redundancy, Shona took up a new role with the RNIB in June last year and volunteered to put her new-found skills to good use and lead walks for the blind and partially-sighted community in East Lothian.

Shona said: “For our first walk, we had five walkers and now we have a core of about 10. I think those numbers will grow. We’re getting more and more people interested all the time.

“I really enjoy leading walks. I enjoy walking myself, I enjoy chatting to people, and if I can help people get out and about then I will. 

“The feedback we’ve had so far is very positive. People are enjoying the walk and they’re coming back.

“One of the girls who came along on our very first walk was really quiet and she hardly spoke. And then on the next walk, she was more confident and she was really quite chatty. That was really nice!

“The walk seems to be something everyone looks forward to.”

For more details on this walk, click here.