WALKING CONNECTS: BRENDA'S STORY
Brenda* - aged 68 - from Hanley, recently retired and was struggling with the adjustment to this new stage in her life.
She was getting bored and feeling depressed staying within her “four walls” at home so wanted to find an activity to get out and about and meet new people, but didn’t require a big commitment. As she had been a foster carer, cared for her family and worked with children for many years, she wanted to find an activity that gave her some time just for herself.
Brenda joined the regular Walking Connects led walks in the Stoke-on-Trent area.
Walking Connects, funded by the Department of Transport, inspires people over 50 in Bolton, Wigan, Lancashire and Stoke-on-Trent, to get out and about on engaging led walks and provides the opportunity to voice their need for changes to their local walking environment.
The Walking Connects led walks gave Brenda the opportunity to embrace her newfound freedom in retirement, while promoting better mental and physical wellbeing, as well as creating a space for her to make long-lasting friendships.
“At the walks, I feel wanted, welcomed, connected and included. My mental health has improved, I want to do more and feel motivated to do things when I get home. Now I am starting to feel excited about retirement. The thought of walking in a group gets me up and ready for the day. I look forward to it, enjoy seeing different faces and look forward to meeting people. I go back and tell my family how my day was and what I did. My daughter has seen a huge improvement in my mood, she thinks I am more cheerful and chatty!”
Walking Connects has given Brenda something to structure her new retired lifestyle and routine around. Meeting new people and attending the history talks at the Dudson Museum has allowed her to learn new things and socialise with other people her age and in similar life circumstances.
“After the walks I feel alive, refreshed, more positive and able to get on with things. The walks give me a purpose and an activity to help me get used to retirement. I also like walking in a group because it makes me feel safer. That was a barrier to walking before. This walking group helps me to feel relaxed and safe.”
At the time of writing, Brenda has joined 12 walks and has made 30 new social connections. She feels her mood is much better, she is happier and more hopeful, energised, motivated and physically fitter.
*Brenda’s name has been changed as she wished to remain anonymous