Appeal made for friendly walkers

By Farnham Herald in Community News

EAST Hampshire District Council (EHDC) is seeking “friendly, sociable people” who are keen walkers and who may be interested in becoming volunteer walk leaders to attend a free training session in May.

The appeal is designed to find leaders for Walking for Health walks in East Hampshire.

Walking for Health is a scheme that aims to improve people’s health and well-being through regular walking. The scheme has more than 10,000 volunteers nationwide and is hosted by The Ramblers and Macmillan.

The next free training day for walk leaders is at Penns Place in Petersfield on Friday, May 19, from 10am-4pm.

As part of the training, volunteers are taken for a short walk through a beautiful nature reserve by the River Rother. Lunch is provided.

Walking for Health has been running in both East Hampshire and Havant for 12 years. There are currently 30 regular free walks which anyone can attend.

Walks usually take about an hour with people able to choose their own pace, allowing walkers to build up their fitness gradually with the support and encouragement of others, although 30-minute walks have recently been introduced for those who can’t manage longer.

The fun and informal training day will provide information on how to lead walks safely. After the course, leaders will be fully supported to become integrated as a volunteer with one of the existing walks or even start up a new one.

To take part in the leader training, participants must have visited a Walking for Health walk so that they have an understanding of how they work.

Commitment from walk leaders is completely flexible. Some walk leaders get involved every week, while others help out once every few months. Walk leaders do not need to be extremely fit – you only need to be able to walk for about an hour – but the qualities you do need are to be friendly and approachable with a desire to help people.

The Walking for Health co-ordinator for EHDC, sports development officer Kirsty Cope, is looking to expand on the number of shorter 30-minute walks and find walk leaders interested in running inclusive walks suitable for buggies and wheelchairs.

Ingrid Thomas, East Hampshire District Council’s portfolio holder for welfare, said: “The feedback from both walkers and leaders over the years has been tremendous.

“These walks have helped many individuals overcome isolation and loneliness.

“Most groups also organise social events outside of their walks, becoming a valuable group of friends to the people who take part. The health benefits of just going for a walk are huge. A small amount of added activity can improve all aspects of life and provide a little fresh air, friends and healthier lifestyle.”

For more details or to reserve a place on the training day, call Kirsty Cope on 01730 234015 or email kirsty.cope@ easthants.gov.uk

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