In October 2020 we launched our new five-year strategy: Walk with Us. This is a bold and ambitious new strategy set against the backdrop of COVID-19.
We have three key outcomes to be reached by 2025:
Our Head of Policy and Communications, Tanya Braun, looks in more detail at each of these outcomes, this time on ALL WALKS OF LIFE.
Walking is the most accessible form of transport there is. It’s free, generally requires no equipment and should be possible for us all to do every day. And when we say walking, we include using a mobility scooter, wheelchair or other form of walking aid.
We want to ensure people from all walks of life can walk their everyday journeys. As easy and accessible as walking is, different street environments and societal attitudes have an impact on whether all of us feel able to walk our local, everyday journeys.
The COVID19 pandemic has starkly highlighted these inequalities. People from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic groups and low-income groups – already at greater risk from traffic collisions and air pollution – have been disproportionately affected by the disease. The loneliness of older and disabled people has got worse.
The barriers to and motivations for walking vary across different communities. For us to improve walking for everyone, we need to listen to all and amplify diverse voices. We also must ensure we are working across a diverse range of areas, with a diverse range of people.
Our work in Scotland, via our Walking Connects project has raised the voices of communities across the country. In most cases, this support has focused on older people and ensuring they are able to ask the local council to make the improvements they need.
In the London Borough of Redbridge, we have worked with a diverse range of communities for many years, supporting older people from different backgrounds to walk more. Through collaborations with care homes and community groups, we have left a walking legacy across the borough.
We have members and volunteers supporting us from all over the UK. As a community, they have identified the importance of increasing diversity and this is a priority for us over the coming five years.
We’ve already done a lot of work to diversify our Local Group network and our growing community of members – who now are significantly made up of younger parents from neighbourhoods across the UK.
There is no doubt that better streets and more walking will benefit everyone and put in place the foundations for improved health, stronger local economies, reduced carbon emissions and cleaner air. We are working hard to spread these benefits across the diverse communities with which we work – so everyone can enjoy the simple act of walking, regardless of background and circumstances.
We are developing stronger equality and diversity strategies across all areas of our work.