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Dagenham over 65s: walking with a shared purpose

In March 2023, our Youth Campaign officers visited the Dagenham Over 65s Group, one of our Local Groups that focusses on promoting social engagement, physical activity, and well-being among older people.

Here Ladajah Wilson talks about what makes this group so special.  

We love to visit our Local Groups and join in on what they are doing. Sometimes it means we can offer support when needed and other times it is to celebrate what they are doing and hear first-hand why people want to walk each week. What we heard is that many participants had initially joined to because they felt lonely and isolated for a number of reasons.  These individuals found comfort in the group, forming meaningful friendships that have persisted for months. 

Feeling motivated to leave your house is a big step to bringing more friends into your life and we know the health benefits it can bring; however, it isn’t always easy to do.  Bolaji Ogunsola is the coordinator and walk leader of the Local Group and his enthusiasm and commitment is evident. Bolaji takes on the role of not just a leader but a caring friend, ensuring that the members feel valued and looked after.  

One common theme that came up was the importance of routine and structure that the group provides. For many of them, the weekly meetings and activities act as anchors in their lives, offering a sense of purpose that is so valuable. 

“I needed an avenue to give something back to the community and Living streets gave me the chance through starting a Local Group. I feel responsible for the group, a responsibility I take with pride and the sense of empowerment I derive from this is immense. For me, the most important aspect of leading the group is the members themselves. Spending time with the people that come each week is enjoyable. I am really grateful for the group's enthusiasm. It is their eagerness to be there that makes me realise how important it is to lead the group. I just love the sense of camaraderie and shared purpose.” - Bolaji Ogunsola, Local Group Coordinator 


Barbra's experience with Living Streets is a testament to the positive impact of social engagement and physical activity on one's well-being, even in the later years of life. 

When asked about her day, Barbra's face lights up with enthusiasm. She shares that she thoroughly enjoyed today's walk and appreciates the friendship and encouragement from fellow participants. For Barbra, being part of the group is a source of genuine pleasure. She values the chance to meet new people and expand her circle of friends. 

Barbra's story illustrates the importance of Local Groups in Living Streets in providing opportunities for older adults to stay active and socially engaged. For her and her friends, these walks are about more than just physical health; they are a source of joy, friendship, and shared experiences that enrich their lives in meaningful ways. 



Maureen's journey with the Living Streets group is a heart-warming tale of resilience, friendship, and the power of community support. 

Maureen's life had always been filled with adventure and independence and spent her later years travelling around in a caravan. Life took an unexpected turn in 2021 when she broke her wrist, causing her to hang up her caravan keys for good and, as a result, she lost touch with her network of friends from all around the country. 

Through the Dagenham Over 65s Group, Maureen quickly formed connections with six wonderful people who became her new friends. Her involvement in the group has exceeded her hopes, providing her with a circle of friends and a sense of community that she had missed dearly. 


Kay's favourite thing about the Dagenham Over 65s Group is the strong sense of community and the support that it offers, which she likens to a family.  

Kay's perspective underlines the importance of creating inclusive and welcoming spaces for older adults to socialise and engage in meaningful activities. Our Dagenham Over 65s Group has become a sanctuary where Kay and others can find friendship, support, and a true sense of belonging. 

Innovative Approach: Creative Walking  

One interesting topic of discussion during the visit was the use of creative walking, particularly in adverse weather conditions, where it may be challenging for older individuals to remain active and socially engaged. Creative walking involves incorporating various elements of creativity and sensory experiences into traditional walks, making them not only physically beneficial but mentally stimulating and enjoyable. 

Future Considerations: Intergenerational Walks 

The Youth Campaign officers also discussed the possibility of planning intergenerational walks, where older group members could walk alongside younger children from the community. We would love to see these kind of walks in our Local Group network to foster connections between generations, creating a sense of unity and understanding between different age groups.  


The Dagenham Over 65s Group exemplifies the importance of community initiatives in promoting well-being among older people. Through the leadership of Bolaji and the commitment of its members, the group has become a vital source of social connection and structure for its participants. The introduction of creative walking and the potential for intergenerational walks illustrate the group's adaptability and willingness to explore new avenues for enhancing the lives of its members. This case study demonstrates the positive impact of such initiatives on the lives of older adults and the potential for further innovation in promoting their well-being.