An Inverclyde walking group has won a volunteer award for helping to improve the health of their local community whilst going the extra mile to provide support during the pandemic.
Inverclyde Bothy Health Walk Project (managed by Cycling UK) has been recognised as the winners of Health Walk Group of the Year at Paths for All’s Volunteer Awards 2021.
The diverse group organises seven walks every week for people of all levels, ages and abilities, bringing the community together to socialise while staying active.
Throughout lockdown the walking group looked out for each other and kept motivated with regular zoom meetings to stay connected and lift spirits.
Health Walk Co-ordinator with Inverclyde Bothy, Jenni Murray, said: “This award is a great recognition for our brilliant team of dedicated volunteers and walkers who come together every week.
“We’ve formed such a strong community bond through walking, even if it is just for an hour each week it really gives people a sense of belonging.
“The pandemic made a lot of people feel isolated and the group become a key support network. Everyone in the group was encouraged to get outside and walk safely when restrictions allowed to improve health and wellbeing.
“Now we are allowed to walk together again, the group is more committed than ever before which is just amazing!
“We venture out in all weathers and we’ve really gone from strength to strength since the pandemic with everyone valuing the time spent together out in the community.”
The group aims to facilitate and support a broad range of diverse walkers, with the numbers of walkers growing, many of who are referred to the group via the Scottish Association of Mental Health, Local Community Connectors and Link workers.
Jenni added: “Everyone comes to the group for their own reasons, but whatever the reason it is a fantastic opportunity to meet new people and have a chat. People just click together and we’ve had a lot of great friendships developed.
“After a difficult year for many it is really special to have our group recognised at the award ceremony and I’m sure there will be many celebrations to come”.
The Inverclyde group were commended at the awards ceremony which was held virtually for the second year and hosted by Fiona Stalker.
Inverclyde Bothy Health Walk Project were among 11 different winners at the 12th annual Volunteer Awards that highlighted the outstanding work carried out by volunteers across the country.
The charity supports local authorities and communities to develop inclusive environments for people to be active; whether walking, cycling or wheeling.
Kevin Lafferty, Chief Executive Office at Paths for All, said: “Groups like Inverclyde Bothy Health Walk Project highlight the very reason why we host an annual awards ceremony.
“It is vital that we celebrate and shed light on the outstanding work that volunteers carry out in local communities across Scotland on a daily basis.
“Our volunteer’s invaluable contribution is directly working to improve the nation’s physical, mental and social health which has been evident throughout the pandemic, with many going above and beyond their normal duties.
“Hearing the inspirational stories during the award ceremony has highlighted that it is not just enough to say thank you – the work undertaken has provided a life line for many and for that we’re forever grateful.”
Paths for All works with the Scottish Government and 30 partners to support and deliver national policies, such as the National Walking Strategy and other ‘active travel’ initiative to improve the mental, social and physical health of the country.
The charity awards thousands of pounds worth of grants to worthwhile projects that improve health, promote walking and improve environments for people to be active in.
To find out more which Health Walks you can join in Inverclyde, visit: www.pathsforall.org.uk/healthwalkfinder