Walking is good for volunteer Robert’s mental health

Volunteer Robert Craig was nominated in our 2019 Volunteer Awards for his volunteering role as bus driver and Walk Leader with Paisley Puffins in Renfrewshire.

Pictured L-R from Walking Group Paisley Puffins are Sally Logan, Jane McTaggart and Robert Craig.

Paisley Puffins provide a led Health Walk for sheltered and very sheltered housing residents in Renfrewshire.

Consultation with 300 older residents living across ten sites found that they wanted to get more fresh air and gentle exercise. 

Some tenants were not confident to join existing community walking groups as they were uncertain if they could manage these walks with their mobility aids.

Creating a weekly resident walking group helped reassure tenants that the walks would be accessible and low level to meet their varied mobility needs. Strength and balance exercises are performed in the housing complexes to support older adults stay functionally fit.      

Each week tenants are picked up from the several housing complexes and taken to different locations where the terrain is level. Refreshments are held after the walk. 

Many of the tenants say they are feeling fitter and stronger. They have made new friends and enjoy getting outdoors. 

One tenant was heard to say:

We’re not old, we’re just recycled teenagers.

Robert describes how volunteering has helped him:

I joined the Paisley Puffins in 2018 as a volunteer and before I knew it, I was quickly hooked. I went through the Paths for All Walk Leader course and really enjoy volunteering. I have never missed a week.

I drive the bus for Paisley Puffins and through this I have taken positive steps to get myself back into work. I love listening to the resident’s stories. Some of them have lived exciting lives. 

For me walking is so good for my mental health and I enjoy volunteering anyway I can. My motto is: "don’t sweat about the small stuff."

Since joining the Paisley Puffins, I have become more confident within myself and it has opened new opportunities for me.

Some of the walkers who Robert supports enjoy the social benefits of the group such as Jenny Henderson, aged 95, who likes the company on the walk as she doesn’t have many visitors. She said:

My biggest difference is friendship.

The new UK Chief Medical Officer guidelines for older adults encourage daily activity and 150 weekly minutes of moderate intensity activity such as walking.  Activities to improve strength, balance and flexibility are recommended on at least two days of the week. 

Find out more about Paisley Puffins on our website

Paisley Puffins are a member of the Scottish Health Walk Network.