By Shameem Hussain (MWN UK Operations Director)
Sport England funded MWNUK to deliver the Walk and Talk Project to help tackle inequalities that exist within sport and physical activity, for those who need it the most such as: lower socio-economic groups; BAME and culturally diverse communities; disabled people; and people with long term health conditions. The project commenced in August 2022 and ended in September 2023.
“…the walks have been wonderful and beneficial to me mentally and physically. I have found that they have motivated me to walk more at any given opportunity Masha Allah. I have enjoyed the lovely and interesting company of the amazing sisters in the group Subhan Allah. Being outside with nature is vital with busy lives we lead…” Rosina (walk participant)
MWNUK identified potential walk leaders from their existing networks across England. Walk leaders were provided training such as online first aid; resources such as first aid kits, high visibility jackets and walking aids; and 1:1 support from our Outreach Officer. The walk leaders were either volunteers connected to their community agency and wanted to give back or individuals who wanted to volunteer their time and expertise outside of their usual work.
Muslim women went for weekly walks no matter the weather, they used gym equipment in their local parks, canals walks, heritage sites, nature walks, mindful walks, strolls to brisk walks; and between them they visited 66 green spaces across England. To celebrate they had chai morning, picnics, celebrated International Women’s Day, raised awareness about breast cancer, domestic abuse, mental health and more.
“The idea of getting to point A to B was more than just getting my foot out of the front door. I found myself bonding with a group of Muslim sisters from all walks of life. It took away from feeling loneliness and the stress of daily life made me think clearly” Nisreen (walk participant)
Muslim women thrived and provided promising feedback regarding improvements in their health and wellbeing, for example:
· Improved mental health
· Improved physical health
· Decreased isolation
· Improved social networks
· Raised awareness of health issues and related awareness days
· Connected women to green spaces
· Connected women to community projects
· Increased opportunities to access support and resources
· Improved social connections
· Produced walking guide (link below)
“After starting [these walks] I noticed a number of benefits; a good start to the week, destress when in beautiful nature; able to reach goal of 10,000 steps and great company to socialize and support each other.” Sabera (walk participant)
The project was a triumph! I want to thank each person who participated in this project and praise their dedication and willpower. If you are interested in setting up your own walk group, then MWNUK has produced a guide to setting up walking group which can be found here.
Project Stats and Successes
Number of walks completed: 331
Number of locations in England: 8 cities (Birmingham, Blackburn, Bradford, Bristol, Liverpool, Manchester and Sheffield); 66 green spaces
Number of walk leaders recruited: 22
Number of women helped: 210 (average 12 per walk)
Number of different ethnicities: 19
Age range: 17 – 79 years old
“Given the research which shows the increasing loneliness experienced by many, and the low levels of fitness in women from ethnic communities, as well as disparities in access to facilities for ethnic communities, I think there is a great need for projects such as this” Momotaj (walk leader)
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