Walking and befriending group set up in Northamptonshire to help older people feeling lonely and isolated

The group provides opportunities to get together up to four times a week to walk, cycle, grab a meal and occasionally take part in other activities like paintballing

By Megan Hillery
Wednesday, 19th January 2022, 4:48 pm

A social club is looking to get more Northamptonshire residents involved in their 'Walk With Us' group, which was set up during the first lockdown.

The Easy Rider Activity Club, which gives special guided bike rides and walks around the county three times a week, was set up during the first lockdown by reflexologist Jason Williams, closely followed by their 'Walk With Us' (WWU) group.

The WWU organised walks take place three times a week on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

The Walk With Us (WWU) group on one of their walks.

Jason Williams, who is in charge of community development at Age UK Northamptonshire, said: "In the first lockdown - it seems so long ago - there were single people, single parents, people like that who found themselves very isolated and some were usually very social people.

"We have had a few people who said their friends aren't getting out and we give them a ring and invite them along and it is a nice contact point to let them know there are others in the same situation."

Wednesday's walks are carried out in partnership with Age UK Northamptonshire and involves a low level walk in Abington Park from 1pm for around 45 minutes. Ramblers meet at The Park Cafe, where they can grab a coffee together and be social and then take a walk down the lake.

Talking about how participants have benefitted from the group walks, Jason said: "A couple of guys lost their wives in the lockdown and they were left on their own.

The WWU group meets up to walk three times a week.

"They were able to meet other people and access services they did not know about. The walks have lifted their mental health and, you know, there are many people who have put on weight over lockdown and had issues with keeping up mobility and joint problems.

"I teach people how to nordic walk, which is walking with poles. If we can teach people how to use these, they are in a far better posture position to get better. The body heals itself a lot better so people have benefitted from that as well."

The groups additionally meet on Tuesdays at 2pm at Castle Ashby and Fridays at various meeting points across the county to do higher level walks ranging from three to six miles.

Walking is not even a compulsory aspect of WWU; some members turn up to have a cup of coffee or some lunch whilst enjoying a bit of company.

On Saturdays, the group carries out guided bike rides, cycling out to places like Pitsford, Grendon and Brampton Valley Way. Occasionally, a group member will suggest organising an activity for the whole group such as paintballing or paddle boarding.

Jason added: "Everybody who has an idea, we try to support them to do it so they don't do it on their own."

There are currently 25 members of the social group at present and WWU are on the lookout for more participants as well as volunteers to guide the walks.

Anyone wanting to join one of the guided walks is asked to bring a contribution of £1.

To find out more about WWU or to be added to the group's WhatsApp chat, contact Jason on 07957353482.