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Let’s Walk and Talk

Guidance for running a successful
walk and talk

The Walk and Talk Movement (https://wewalkandtalk.org/) is on a mission to get as many communities as possible walking and talking together across the UK.

 

We do this by providing guidance on how local communities can come together and set-up their own walk and talk.

 

Walk and talks are run by the community for the community.

 

The Walk and Talk Movement started in Southwest London in September 2021.

 

In the first 2 years, more than 300 successful walk and talks have been run by the community, with more than 5,000 participants joining in…

 

…and growing every week…

 

Walk and talks are a very easy, laid back, friendly and supportive way for anybody and everybody in the community to come together each week.

 

This simple approach really works – and we have already made such a huge impact on the health and happiness of so many people and communities.

 

Here is how you get walking and talking together in your local community.

Please note

The Walk and Talk Movement does not run or manage walk and talks itself. It provides inspiration and guidance for the community to set up their own walk and talks, who in turn are responsible for all aspects of running their own walk and talks.

The Walk and Talk Movement wants to help walking and talking across the UK, but please remember information on this website is for general guidance only and The Walk and Talk Movement is not responsible for how this information is used or applied. 

Why walk and talk

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Walk and talks have created a very significant impact across the community.

Here are just some of the great benefits:

Mental Health

Supporting and improving mental health by reducing isolation, building communication opportunities and informal support networks, as well as connecting to and using green spaces.

Friendly Faces

Putting more smiles on more faces – living well together.

Safer Spaces

Making our local green spaces safer, through increased use.

Physical Health

Supporting and improving physical health through friendly, supportive and welcoming exercise in local green spaces.

New Connections

Building a sense of community, helping people feel connected and valued, promoting equality and inclusion, promoting multi-generational connections and giving people a real sense of wellbeing.

Community

Promoting, encouraging and supporting vital social and community networks – for all the community and across all of the community.

Inclusivity

Creating a friendly, safe and inclusive environment to drive important, growing and lasting social impact.

Walk and talk in your community

How you can help your local community every step of the way

The simple secret to a successful walk and talk

Everybody should be given a warm welcome. Walk and talks should be inclusive and accessible to the whole community. The joy of a walk and talk is that the community comes together to make new local friends. Neighbours who didn't know each other have met for the first time, people who have been isolated or lonely have reconnected. In other words, nobody should walk alone. Both the walking and the talking are equally important – that is why walk and talk put so many smiles on faces every week.

Here are our top 10 tips to create your own walk and talk for your community:

1

Choose a good public green space that the local community can easily get to and is preferably accessible by public transport. Check that there is not a walk and talk already happening at the same time in the same place. If there is you can always support that one.

4

The ideal way to start a walk and talk is to come together with a few local community minded coordinators. Then, once a local walk and talk starts, we have found that regular participants are the best source of future supporters. Building your community, and connections, together creates a sustainable and fun local walk and talk.

7

The atmosphere should be friendly, welcoming and low key, creating an informal fun activity for anyone to meet up and chat to other participants whilst enjoying a little exercise. Part of the walk and talk coordinating role is to make sure people are happy.

10

Watch this space. We will provide ongoing guidance and help on how to set-up and run your own community walk and talk. We will also be providing some more top tips and ideas on how to market walk and talks to your local community soon. Finally, we are exploring ways to give new walk and talk groups help to get their community walking and talking, so we look forward to hearing from you.

2

Set a consistent time each week for your walk and talk. The most successful time we have found to engage with the whole community, young and older, is 10.30am on Saturday mornings.

5

Each walk and talk should have at least two community coordinators to ensure that faster and slower walkers can be accommodated. So we would recommend agreeing a simple rota with local volunteers a month in advance on a rolling basis so you have the peace of mind that future walk and talks are covered.

8

On some walk and talks the community has organised local activities to do during or after a walk and talk, or they have invited community experts or organisations to come along and lead, e. g. a nature or history walk. This can be a great way to learn more about the local community and everybody can benefit.

3

Keep it simple. Asking for bookings, reservations or personal details can put people off walking and talking. If people know exactly where and when you are walking and talking each week, come rain or shine, they know they can come along when they can. This is a relaxed and simple way to maximise attendance and benefit your community. We recommend that all walk and talks are free for the community.

6

Walk and talks should be flexible and community led. There does not need to be a set route, time or distance each week. We have found that successful walk and talks may typically last for around 45 minutes to an hour, with the pace and length usually set by the group on the day, depending on factors such as the weather. Walkers and talkers should be encouraged to walk and talk at any pace they like, for as short or long as they like. The most important thing is interacting with their local community.

9

We have found that local community organisations and networks are very happy to promote walk and talks in their area and let people know about these. Being proactive and spreading the word can have a great and growing impact.

How a walk and talk typically works

Meeting up

Each walk should have a designated time each week and a consistent meeting spot.

 

As outlined, we recommend Saturdays at 10.30am as the best time to engage with the most people in a community. In this example, we would recommend the following:

At 10.20am

Walk co-ordinators arrive and introduce themselves to people as they arrive.  The initial welcome with a big smile is very important, because it is at this point that attendees might feel at their most anxious and decide whether it is for them or not.


We would recommend having at least two walk co-ordinators to ensure everyone receives a personal welcome and gets a great experience.

 

Please note: One of the walk co-ordinators will be lead walk coordinator and say a few words of welcome and encouragement as outlined below. The other walk coordinator will help support the walk and talk, chatting to different people and encouraging conversations.

Before you start walking and talking

At around 10.30am

The lead walk co-ordinator attracts everyone’s attention and does a short group welcome to all the assembled walkers and talkers, introducing the walk co-ordinators and the simple plan for the walk that day.

 

Please check in with people if you are planning to walk up any hills and give a rough idea of how long you anticipate the walk to be and whether you are planning to return to the start point.

 

Ask if there are any new walkers and talkers and give them a warm welcome and a round of applause from the group. Then explain that the aim of walk and talks are for people to chat to each other, meet new members of the community and enjoy themselves.

 

It is also great to remind everyone to invite friends, neighbours and family to come along to future walk and talks and have a fun and enjoyable start to the weekend.

 

Other important things to say:
 

We recommend you always remind everyone that they are responsible for their own health and safety - in other words:

 

“Hi walkers and talkers, it is lovely to see you and walk and talk with you, but please remember you are your own responsibility. You should walk at whatever pace you are comfortable with and for as short or long as you like, at your own risk.”

 

In practice this is a very easy, friendly and informal introduction.

 

Walk co-ordinators should also say if they would like to take photos for use on social media and elsewhere to help promote the local walk and talk. If anybody doesn’t wish to be in photos, they can then step aside or let you know in advance.

 

Another important consideration:

All children should be supervised by a responsible adult or carer.

During the walk and talk

We believe walk and talks should be fun, enjoyable, relaxed, comfortable and informal. This is about chatting, meeting people, enjoying the local scenery and exploring the local area together.

 

Everyone should be made to feel welcome and included.

 

Along the walk, try to ensure people don’t walk on their own for too long, particularly if they are new. It is good practice to introduce yourself to any newcomers early on to make them feel welcome and ensure that they are walking with someone else.

Dos:

  • Make it fun and engaging.

  • Ensure everyone feels welcome.

  • A smile and a laugh goes a long way.

  • Be an engaged and good listener.

  • Try to introduce new attendees to others.

  • Encourage people to walk at their own pace and to let you know if they are uncomfortable with anything.

  • Ask for feedback and ideas.

  • Identify people walking on their own and involve them (no-one likes to be alone in a group).

  • Avoid cliqueness!

  • Assess the attendees’ ability and amend the planned route if mobility issues present themselves.

  • Try to break down barriers - gently. Many people have suffered anxiety or been isolated so listen, learn, encourage conversation and introduce other walkers that might have something in common.

  • Shine and be proud of what is happening in your local community.

  • Remind walkers that they are walking at their own risk.

Don'ts:

  • Be rigid and inflexible.

  • Be shy and retiring.

  • Exclude people - pay particular attention to newcomers.

  • Only talk to people you are familiar with.

  • Don’t ask too many personal questions unless information is offered. For example, ideas for openers are: How did you hear about walk and talks?
    Do you walk around this area very much? Do you know this area well?

At the end of the walk and talk

At the end of a walk and talk, we recommend you thank everyone for coming, remind them that we always walk and talk, come rain or shine from the same time, same place next week and every week, and that it would be great to see them and please bring a friend/neighbour along to benefit as well.

 

We recommend you make it very clear when a walk and talk finishes. At the end of any walk and talk, and before any tea or coffee or social gathering, we suggest you state that this is the end of the walk and talk, thank people for coming and, if applicable, say they are welcome to stay and chat and have a tea and coffee in their own time.

Activities

Our walk and talk groups sometimes link in with local community activities and any ideas are very welcome.

Ideas include:

  • Quiz questions about the local area.

  • Tree or bulb planting.

  • Guided walks from local experts on birds, flowers, history.

  • Join in other local activities/open days in the area.

  • Get involved in helpful community activities such as litter picks.

  • Agree with a local business for the group to visit for a tea/coffee/ice cream (including possible discount).

Don’t worry - activities are not mandatory in any way - the most important thing is the walk and talk - but they are just a nice addition if you or the community have any ideas or interests.

How to get new walk
co-ordinators involved in a community walk and talk

Getting involved should be really fun, easy, laid back and welcoming.

Co-ordinators are there to help welcome walkers and talkers and help co-ordinate our walks, and at the same time have a good time by enjoying fresh air, the great outdoors, discovering green spaces and nature and benefiting from great company.

Typically, walk co-ordinators may start by volunteering for a few hours a month on one walk and talk, with volunteers rotating so that this is a joy, rather than a burden, for anybody.

Co-ordinators are free to plan any routes or local activities they wish, or just support a walk and talk.

Walk and talk groups should always be open to ideas and there is always an element of flexibility based on community feedback.

The key thing to ask coordinators is that if they have pledged to do a walk and talk that they turn up for their agreed walk or agree a replacement in advance.

Walk leaders or co-ordinators are not required to have insurance or have a first aid qualification, but they may choose to get these if they wish.

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Marketing and Promotion

Central Website

Facebook

Instagram

We are happy to promote your weekly walk and talks and any activities you are running or planning:

 

Please e-mail us at:

info@thewalkandtalkmovement.org

 

How we handle photos/social media:

It is always helpful to have photos of the walk and talk groups and events. Before taking any photos of attendees, it is important you state that the photos could be used on our website and on social media so that anyone who does not wish to participate has the opportunity to step aside (no questions asked).

What to do in the unlikely event of falls or accidents

As we have outlined above, at the start of any walk and talk, we recommend you make it clear that walkers and talkers are their own responsibility and should take care of themselves, walking at their own pace and for as long or short as they feel comfortable with, at their own risk.

As we recommend walk and talks are run in public places and green spaces, rather than rough terrain or hiking, risks should be low. However, you should explain to walkers and talkers where you are planning to walk and talk, highlight any hills or longer walks, ask if the group is comfortable with this and re-iterate that walkers and talkers can stop or leave at any time.

This said, despite the low risks, falls and accidents may occasionally occur. In this instance, whilst you are not medical professionals, you will naturally want to help our walkers and talkers where possible.

Here is our simple guidance

  • If somebody has a fall or an accident, the first thing to do is to ascertain if they are comfortable and feeling ok. This may involve halting the walk temporarily and finding a comfortable place for somebody to rest. If appropriate have two people stay back with the person to ensure they are ok

  • If there are any doubts at all about the health of a participant, then you should halt the walk and talk and call 999 immediately.

  • If the walker and talker has suffered a minor injury, where possible and if you have access to a First Aid Kit, you could provide temporary assistance.

  • If, you feel the walker and talker is uncomfortable and needs more medical attention and support you should call 999 immediately.

Some important points to keep in mind

It is not your role to collect personal information about individual walkers and talkers. You can be kind, supportive, helpful and sympathetic, but it is not your responsibility to contact people outside of our walk and talks. You are not responsible for any medical care, treatments, recommendations or follow-ups for walk and talk participants. All you can do is contact the emergency services, as and when required, or signpost any help participants may be able to get.

In summary, if somebody has a fall or an accident, we recommend you are kind and caring and point participants in the right direction to get the help they need from medical experts, as this is the right thing to do to help the community.

But it is important to say that you shouldn’t be responsible for that medical help, the effectiveness of that help or following up on that help as we are not medical professionals.

How to deal with Data Protection

Under data protection rules, any personal data you collect should be treated confidentially and sensitively and not distributed to third parties.

How to deal with Safeguarding and Health and Wellbeing Concerns

Walk and talks are making an important impact across the community.

Supporting people when concerns are raised about abuse or neglect can be very difficult and distressing for everyone involved. However, from time to time you may have serious concern about safety and health and wellbeing of some participants. As a community-minded person you will no doubt want to help people. However, it is not your responsibility to investigate or to provide a solution to any Safeguarding or Health and Wellbeing issues, or any personal issues a walker and talker may face from time to time. You are not a trained expert. Your help needs to be limited to signposting to relevant experts and support or contacting emergency services in the event of an immediate crisis.

 

Read on for more guidance.
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Raising a Safeguarding Concern

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1

Informed of Issue

You are informed, or become aware of, possible abuse or neglect of a walk and talk participant during a walk and talk or are concerned about the health and wellbeing of a walk and talk participant during a walk and talk.

2

Understanding

Gather information.

How does the adult wish for the concern to proceed?

What changes/support would they like as a result of this concern being raised?

3

Take Action

Take action to ensure the immediate safety and welfare of the adult (and any other person/child at risk):

 

Consider:

  • Does medical attention need to be organised? (Dial 111)

  • Is urgent police presence required? (Dial 999)

4

Crime 

Has a crime been committed? If so, does it need to be reported?

 

(Dial 101 unless there is an immediate risk, in which case, dial 999. Preserve forensic evidence, if any).

5

Raise Concern

Decide whether to raise a safeguarding concern with a relevant local charity, council or other organisation that could help. Do this immediately where the concern is urgent and serious.

6

Inform Others

Ensure key people are informed.

 

For example, volunteers should inform the community walk and talk leaders, always respecting the confidentiality of the person that is the subject of the safeguarding concerns.

7

Support

Provide support or feedback for the person raising and identifying the safeguarding concern.

For walk and talks operating in
Merton and Wandsworth

Merton

 

Information on how to raise a concern can be found at Merton Council’s website, accessed here

 

https://www.merton.gov.uk/social-care/adult-social-care/safeguarding/report

You can also call:

  • First Response Team 
    Phone: 020 8545 4388 (9am to 1.30 pm, excluding bank holidays)

  • Crisis Line 
    Phon
    e: 07903 235 382 (1.30pm to 5pm Monday to Friday)

  • Emergency Duty Team (Out of Hours – after 5pm and bank holidays) 
    Phone: 020 8770 5000 or 0345 6189762

 

Email: safeguarding.adults@merton.gov.uk
Wandsworth
Information on how to raise a concern can be found at Wandsworth Council’s website, accessed here

 

https://www.wandsworth.gov.uk/health-and-social-care/adult-social-care/adult-social-care-information-and-advice/staying-safe/safeguarding-and-adult-abuse/report-adult-abuse/

A message of thanks to our community walk and talk groups
 

You are making such a difference.

Here is what it means to our walkers and talkers.
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