How a simple walk can change lives
How a simple walk can change lives

It sounds really simple, but going for a walk helps so many people and changes lives for the better.

It’s free. It’s healthy. And it’s a chance to enjoy the great outdoors. For many people, though, it’s not that easy.

Diane Dawkins cares for her husband, Bill, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease 10 years ago. They sold their business so she could be a full-time carer.

Diane is at home with Bill most of the time, with three hours’ respite support a week. She tried to organise activities they could do together, but it wasn’t easy on her own, and Bill needed encouragement from someone else.

But now things have changed. Bill and Diane joined a monthly walk for disabled people and their carers – and they haven’t looked back since.

“It’s wonderful,” says Diane. “It’s something Bill and I can do together. It’s all organised for us. All we have to do is turn up – and we have a lovely time.”

The walks are run by Stepping Out with Carers – a project Sport England are funding that helps people with a disability and their carers enjoy walking together. Diane was put in touch with the co-organiser, Sue Mott, through Carers’ Support.

Now, thanks to Stepping Out with Carers, Diane and Bill have something new to enjoy. “We’ve seen places we wouldn’t have otherwise visited,” she says. “It’s something to look forward to every month.”

They have made friends through the walks, too: they met Joy Stickells and her husband Tony, who live a couple of streets away. Tony was encouraged to join in because of Bill – and being with others has benefited everyone.

“Going out in a group is so exhilarating,” says Diane. “It has an energy of its own: you can accomplish things you wouldn’t by yourself.”

With the government pushing their Active 10 campaign, encouraging everyone to take a ten minute brisk walk every day, the health benefits are there to be seen.

Kent has a number of walking groups to join with most free to join.