The award-winning local walking group Take A Hike was created as a way for women in the BwD South-Asian community to get into green spaces and enjoy the wide-ranging health benefits.
Taking advantage of the beautiful borough we live in, Take A Hike meet up for group walks every week. Free and inclusive, the aim of the group is to enhance wellbeing for group members.
We asked Cllr Mustafa Desai about what inspired the project:
“The group was started in August 2020. I wanted to raise awareness of the great outdoors, promote inclusivity for South-Asian women in my community (although group is open to all), and hoped to address some of BwD’s health challenges such as diabetes, COPD and obesity.
“I also hoped we could tackle escalating mental health challenges and social isolation. Just over a hundred residents with approximately sixty regulars, participate in the weekly walks.
“I’m delighted by the impact the activity has had with regular positive feedback about how it helps the ladies physically, mentality and spiritually.
“I was keen to make the group inclusive, we allow for different abilities to participate. I also teamed up with The Lancashire Wildlife Trust, and provided opportunities for personal development. Currently we have two members training for ‘outdoor leadership’ accreditation.
“The benefits of walking in nature are many. I would love to see more councillors across the borough become walking ambassadors.”
But don’t just take our word for it. Take A Hike member J – who has been walking with the group since last September – shares her story:
“Everyone has their own happy place and for me it is nature. The past year has been difficult for me. However, joining this walking group has provided me with the escape I needed to detach myself away from the realities of the world and delve into the serenity and beauty of nature. This time is dedicated towards focusing on my wellbeing and it has evidently helped a lot. Not only do I feel healthier, but I am a lot happier.
“Wearing a face veil poses no trouble for me. I am still able to feel the same experiences and actively participate just like everyone else in the group. My veil does not obstruct my vision nor does it hinder my feelings. Each week I fully immerse myself in the fresh air and each week I am amazed by the breath-taking views and hope I always feel the way I do when I’m out there: safe, relaxed, happy and stress-free. Everyone in the group is equal – we are all bonded with one common purpose. I am not going to lie, at first it was tiring and my legs would be aching and my shoes would be all muddy and smelly, but it was completely worth it. Everyone in the group was encouraging and supportive. I didn’t feel under pressure, rather we all walked at our own pace and that was okay. Each week left me reeling with a great sense of achievement.
“Joining this group has undoubtedly been the best decision I have ever made. I would definitely recommend it to anyone. Even if you feel you are not a walking person at first, you definitely will be after one week. The memories are everlasting and to this day the pictures fill me with great pride and joy.”
“For anyone who does wear a veil do not let it stop you. This is a great opportunity to improve your physical and mental wellbeing, make new friends and discover the great outdoors. Nature is to be enjoyed by everyone.”
Find more advice and resources on walking on the re:fresh page.