Community bosses say wellbeing walks that provided a lifeline for people in Salford during lockdown will now benefit from a new route: the 154-acre RHS Bridgewater horticultural gardens.
Wellbeing Walks, which are organised through Facebook or Salford Community Leisure’s website and are available to anyone in Salford, run every Tuesday at the site in Worsley.
Jo Bennett works for Salford Community Leisure and is leading the new walking route around RHS Bridgewater. She says the value of the community wellbeing walks was evident from the first meeting back after lockdown.
Getting back after lockdown
“Blimey, there was such a pressure to restart them! We just wanted to get them going with larger groups but when they were properly safe, so we held off. When we got them going it was fantastic. It was a lot of word of mouth and there were people crying on the first walk because they were so relieved to see people, as they’ve been shielding.”
Unfortunately, the walks could not be run over lockdown due to the restrictions and walkers were encouraged to keep up the exercise.
Jo also went on to say: “I think it’s (exercise) so important. Everybody was in the same position, locked in. The amount of people walking was massive. I was like “Blimey, I’m not going to have a job at the end of this with all these people walking!””
She emphasised the importance of the very limited social interaction that these lockdown walks provided.
“It was massive, and you felt connected to people just by having a coffee somewhere or just seeing a face. People would have really struggled if they weren’t even able to do that.”
Wellbeing Walks are ran by Salford Community Leisure and are led by trained volunteers, named Wellbeing Walk Leaders.
Starting a new route at RHS Bridgewater
“We have about 8 walks across the city that have been going a long time. It’s always nice to have new ones. I came down here to look at it and it’s just an amazing place. I was like “Wow, this is a really good place to have a potential walk.””
The appeal of RHS Bridgewater is easy to see, filled to the brim with nature and it is accessible to the public. The natural environment and greenery are thought to have a positive impact on mental health.
“We wanted to work in partnership with them. Hopefully, in the long term, we might hold some exercise classes here like Tai Chi and things like that. It’s such an amazing space and people prefer to walk round green areas.”
With the increase of demand for the wellbeing walks, the demand for volunteers to lead the walks has also increased.
“We’ve had a lot of inquiries about people wanting to volunteer so I’ve done a training day recently. We’ll have 3 or 4 new walks on the back of that.”
“If you’re interested in volunteering and want to become a wellbeing walk leader, it’s fully supported by Salford Community Leisure. We offer all the support and guidance, and you can link into other walks then”
Listen to Jo Bennett speak about Wellbeing Walks here