For Charles, finding a way to meet new people and keep active during last year’s restrictions were all possible thanks to his local Health Walk.
The 67-year-old from Greenock, who has learning disabilities, was introduced to the walk with the Inverclyde Bothy by an old friend in the summer of 2020.
He then became a regular at two Greenock walks despite having pain in one knee and walking with a stick.
Now, the Health Walk’s Project Coordinator and volunteers have noticed improvements in Charles’ stamina in the 10 months he has been walking with the group.
Charles has also lost weight and has enjoyed having the chance to “meet up with folk”.
He said: “It’s good for me. I don’t want to be sitting about.”
Charles was also able to join a special Bothy walk held on Christmas Day 2020 and enjoyed the chance to get out in the fresh air and keep busy. Despite the lack of public transport, Charles was determined to join the small group of keen walkers. He walked down to the start point, did half the walk with the group and then headed back home to join a friend for a festive dinner.
More recently, Charles has found a few of the walks more difficult as his breathing has worsened, so he is going to swap onto a walk he finds better suits and with fewer inclines.
Charles' friend and Power of Attorney Janice said:
The Health Walks have been fantastic, and I just wish I had known about them earlier.
“This past eight months, they have enabled Charles to have a focus during a year when there has been so little out there. Doing the walks twice a week helped to motivate him to walk the other days, and he really does quite like to walk despite his knees.
Charles also opted into the one-to-one Buddy Walks introduced by the Bothy in early 2021.
Janice added: “These were a great help to him and by default to me. It helped keep him focussed on nice things that were planned.”
Since restrictions have eased, Charles is once again enjoying walking with his local group.
As life begins to return to some level of normality, Charles’ other activities are slowly starting to pick up again, but he is keen to walk with his Health Walk group as it’s become part of his regular schedule.
Jenni Murray, The Bothy’s Project Co-ordinator said: “It has been really great getting to know Charles. The Buddy walks earlier this year gave me more time 1-to-1 to enjoy his company, and to hear about his background and interests.
“Despite a very hard start to life, including living in Lennox Castle hospital, followed by several years transitioning to life outside of hospital, Charles is a very positive and inspiring person to be around.
"Always missed on the rare occasion he is unable to attend, he is very much a part of our regular gang and we hope he will continue to enjoy the walks now that some of his other activities are starting to pick-up again.”
To find your local Health Walk, click here.