A community through walking
Walking is a powerful tool for creating social connections. Aisha Hannibal, our Engagement Manager, tells us how it is shaping the work we're doing with Local Groups across the UK.
Walking is a brilliant way of bringing people together and connecting communities. This sense of involvement through walking is something that is shaping the work we do in our Local Groups, as people across the UK meet up to walk and connect with one another.
We spoke to two of our new Local Groups (Manor Park and Ulverston) that ran creativity walks in autumn. They told us about the amazing impact and feeling of belonging the sessions brought to their community.
Sylvie Belbouab is a social documentary photographer who worked with us in Croydon on Our Voice Our Streets. She recently launched Manor Park Living Streets Group, which grew from her relationship with fellow students at Rosetta Arts.
Her Local Group works with migrants or people who do not speak English as a first language and finds that taking photos allows people to express their thoughts and feelings more easily.
Sylvie explains how it began, “During lockdown many of us were struggling with feelings of isolation and felt stressed with all of the restrictions, but these walking challenges really helped to keep us connected. During lockdown, as we weren't able to walk together in person, we set fun weekly photography challenges to inspire us all on our solo walks. We then shared our photos with one another on Instagram and WhatsApp. Once we were able to start walking together again, we explored different parts of Newham and used photography to capture what we noticed had changed within our community."
During lockdown many of us were struggling with feelings of isolation and felt stressed with all of the restrictions, but these walking challenges really helped to keep us connected - Sylvie Belbouab, Manor Park Living Streets Group
The Ulverston Living Streets Local Group in the South Lakes was set up by Monique Sundree-Latchmi Rodgers. Her Group came together to create a map that visualised their multi-sensory experience on their walks.
Monique told us, “We thread our walks together with stories related to ecology, people’s connection to their current environment, as well as their places of birth, heritage or family resonance."
“On our first walk, there were nine of us who had come together. We were all local to the area, while also having heritage connections in Italy, Poland, America and South Africa. We hosted an event to create an abstract map based on what we saw, heard, smelled, felt, and sensed on our walk. We sat, sipping cups of tea, reflecting on what we had experienced and spoke about how walking can be a restorative way of connecting to nature and our community."
"By centring our walks and conversations around belonging and by ensuring members of the migrant and wider communities feel welcome, we can begin to build a collective vision for the kind of future we want for Ulverston. Through these walks, I have discovered that the people of Ulverston and the South Lakeland District are big on community. I hope that the creative walking events will gently and organically increase awareness around diversity and anti-racism in the county."
By centring our walks and conversations around belonging and by ensuring members of the migrant and wider communities feel welcome, we can begin to build a collective vision for the kind of future we want for Ulverston - Monique Sundree-Latchmi Rodgers, Ulverston Living Streets Group