The Energise Centre in Salford has helped a local man to turn his life around.

The community centre, on Douglas Green, provides services events and activities to improve well being.

Dennis Makin, who is a volunteer at the Energise Centre says it was key to him getting back on his feet.

He said: “I lost my job, wasn’t very well and I was at my lowest. When I came in here it was the start of me becoming a better person again.

“Over the last year, while being here, it’s built my confidence – helping other people I realised that’s what I have to do in my future work, and I do start my new job [in a few days] as a social care worker.

“That wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t found this place, with Carlie’s help, Kate’s help and the ladies in the reception.”

Among the various services Energise provides, there are two health walks that benefit peoples’ mental health through exercise and socialising.

‘Talk the Walk’ is a weekly programme carried by the Energise Centre at the Kersal Wetlands every Friday, where for an hour and a half, the participants can walk at their own pace and talk if they feel like it.

The Energise centre sets up another health walk similar to ‘Talk the Walk’ at Salford City every other Thursday.

Walk the Talk at Kersal Wetlands. Photo by Niki Charalambous

Dennis Makin claims that the walk has brought the community together.

He said: “There are local people of a certain age; they probably walked past each other for the past ten, twenty years and not even said good morning.

“Now, they’re all together walking and talking, they’re organizing to have lunch the next day and that’s really nice to see – their well being and them getting in the community as normally. A lot of them have been sat behind closed curtains and now they’re out there, so it’s helping people to meet other people.”

The ‘Walk the Talk’ programme is led by Carlie Valleley and Kate Gillibrand, who are community development workers at Energise.

Carlie says the programme developed over time and had a positive impact on the participants’ mental health.

“We originally set this group up as a time to talk session in the centre. We found it wasn’t very well attended so we decided to take the group out for a walk.

“People loved it. I think when you walk you don’t get that pressure of having to have a conversation – you don’t have to join in if you don’t want to, also you get the added benefit of being outdoors, the mental health impact of that – the group space.”

Carlie highlights the importance of being outside as it removes the pressure of having to talk in a closed space.

“People get a lot of benefit out of just having a time being outside, especially at this time of the year as well where people don’t get outside so much. It may be hard to get out initially, but once they’re on the walk they always feel better.”

John Martin, who is also a volunteer at the centre, says that the walk benefits people’s physical and mental health as it provides an opportunity to socialise.

He said: “I think not only is it a healthy thing to do, any movement is a good thing; but I think it’s also a social thing and that people like to socialise.

“People might be a bit lonely, get depressed perhaps and they come along here it lifts them up. It’s good for them I’d say.”

The final session of Talk the Walk 2019 will take place on 21st December.

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