Review of the year ~ 2023

I want to start by saying thank you...

If you’ve come along on one (or a lot more for some of you) of our walks, courses & events…thank you.

If you’re one of the wonderful people who’ve joined our Wellness Walks Volunteer Leader Schemes…thank you.

If you’ve supported, donated or funded the work we do…thank you.

Without you none of what’s happened this year would be possible.

One year ago...

We had the inkling of an idea that we thought was good – we were just starting to formulate the concept of a Wellness Walks Volunteer Leader training scheme and whilst we self-funded the first one we hadn’t worked out how to take it beyond there.

 

We knew that getting people out in to nature – getting them talking to other people, that fostering a safe and supportive environment for that to happen – we knew it’s all proven to be hugely beneficial for peoples’ mental and physical health – it can quite literally be the very first steps towards feeling better.

We also knew that for Wellness Walks to live up to our mission statement of helping as many people in as many places as possible to be able to access totally free walks in the wonder then we had to find a way to grow.

But. I think it’s probably fair to say we didn’t really know 12 months ago just how many people not only want to attend Wellness Walks – but also, wonderfully, want to support us, get involved & help bring Wellness Walks to their community.

12 months later..

As we approach the end of the year we now have 34 Volunteers across the UK mainland at various stages of becoming fully qualified Wellness Walk Leaders and delivering walks in their communities.

16 are already qualified in walk leadership, first aid for mental health, safeguarding and, of course, physical first aid – and they’re starting to populate our 2024 calendar with even more walks in even more places.

We’ve now got a regular program of walks across Cumbria, Lancashire & The Yorkshire Dales – but we’ve also got walks happening in the Peak District, North Wales, Greater Manchester, The Highlands¬† & Hertfordshire.

So what does that mean?....

In January 2023 we ran 4 events.

In February Karl joined the team and we ran 7 events.

In April our first volunteer’s began their training, followed by further groups in July, August and October.

August also saw us launch our Women’s Hill & Mountain Skills courses (run by the superb Beth) another way to foster safe supportive places – the response was huge & they’re already confirmed to run again in 2024.

By October & November we ran over 20 events each month in more than a dozen different locations across the North.

We finished the year by finalising the recruitment of our first group of volunteers in Wales and added our first Wellness Walk in the South of England, Hertfordshire.

Most importantly all of our walks, courses and events remain totally free to anyone feeling low – and they’re all led by fully qualified leaders who are making a real difference in their communities.

What it means to our participants

Across the year we had 1225 engagements with 235 different individuals.

Over 50% of everyone who has come on a walk with us has come back again.

27% of participants have been on 6 or more walks – real behavioural change.

49% of participants say that attending Wellness Walks has led to long-term improvements in their sense of wellbeing. 68% feel they’re now more resilient – they have more self belief.

5 of our current volunteer Leaders have been previous walk or course participants – proof not just that recovery happens but also that giving back is hugely beneficial to an individuals own wellbeing.

Across the 5 schemes we’ve recruited for this year we’ve had nearly 400 applications – lots of people want to do good deeds

What did our participants say?

“I really appreciated that the walk was free…It was really good to get out with people & just chat, it’s given me a lot of confidence.

” I lost my partner during covid….Until this weeks walk I couldn’t tell you the last time I went out”

“I really appreciated that no-one was left behind and we walked as a group, I’ll definitely be coming on some more walks”

“this group has been life-changing for me. I was terrified (of attending), but I got there and from that moment I felt reassured, welcomed, inspired and a part of the group. Almost 6 months on I am a totally different person.”

What's next?

We now know that this works, that it’s replicable, that people need what we deliver &, best of all, that people want to be involved – so in 2024 we’re aiming to take Wellness Walks to even more new places. We’ll be recruiting and training even more leaders, supporting even more communities, running more personal skills courses than ever….and we’ll also be launching Wellness on Water … but more of that in the New Year.

For now we want to thank you all again and wish you a wonderful and happy New Year – we hope we’ll see you on a walk somewhere,

Kelvyn & all the Wellness Walks Team

Sharing is caring!