Living Streets has developed a unique initiative in Birmingham which aims to support staff from a local company to tackle social isolation amongst the over-65s.

Wythall Walking Friends has seen a group of staff volunteers from Phoenix Group, trained and inspired by the charity Living Streets, run a series of led walks in their local community.

The 'walking friends’ concept builds on the idea that establishing community programmes based around the simple act of going for a local walk with a companion could help to tackle loneliness.

Phoenix Group’s corporate responsibility strategy is all about wellbeing, promoting the importance of physical, mental and financial matters.

One million older people say they always, or often, feel lonely, and 17% see their family, friends or neighbours less than weekly.

Wythall Walking Friends touches on many of these points, by helping to reduce isolation in the local community, encouraging new friendships, increasing exercise and appreciating and discovering natural points of interest, thus helping to reduce the risk of depression and dementia.

The project also involves Wythall Parish Council, the community dementia café and other local businesses to help promote the project.

Current figures suggest there are 10.8 million over-65s in the UK, 3.8 million of whom live alone.

If your business is interested in setting up a Walking Friends initiative, Living Streets can deliver packages for any sized business to include walk leader training, community outreach, and advice on safeguarding frameworks.

Contact Alex McHardy on 0207 377 4900 or at alex.mchardy@livingstreets.org.uk

Smiling ladies

This is an exciting new wellbeing project for the Group. It combines staff volunteering, community interaction, improved wellbeing and an increased understanding about the ageing population and their day-to-day needs. I very much look forward to joining one of the walks over the coming months.

Lucy Symonds, Corporate Responsibility Manager, Phoenix

Loneliness one of the big social challenges of our age. Wythall Walking Friends is a hugely exciting project to see how coming out walking regularly can be an antidote to isolation. We are looking forward to working with Phoenix Group and seeing some fantastic outcomes for the local community and Phoenix staff.

Joe Irvin, Chief Executive, Living Streets