Rural Voices: Supporting community based walks in the Highlands
I’m Kate and I live in Nairn and work in Moray and the surrounding areas.
I work as a Health Walk Manager for Partnerships for Wellbeing, a small charity, on a volunteer led health walk project- P4W Walk.
For me day to day life has changed quite a lot due to lockdown. I used to work full time in an office in Inverness, now I work part-time from home. My social life has reduced too and I spend more time closer to home in my spare time. I also shop more locally and use my car less. I haven’t seen my family in person since February. We’ve been keeping in touch through phone calls and the internet.
I think I’ve settled more into the ‘new normal’. At the beginning of lockdown I was really anxious and everything felt so uncertain and scary. Now I am more relaxed. I feel able to see some friends and enjoy being outside. I definitely still worry about the future though and I hope that this doesn’t last forever. I’m encouraged by the response in my local area but worry for the many businesses and services that are being effected by the pandemic.
My work supports community based health walks in Highland. I love working with the people in my job and helping communities to get outside to enjoy the benefits of walking. The most challenging thing at the moment is trying to support groups to get started again. We need to implement changes to their systems and how they operate the walks. COVID-19 restrictions limit group sizes and many of the walkers are very anxious about getting back out in a group environment. Working with the older population means that many people do not have access to computers or the IT skills to be online. This has become the principle way that people engage with each other. I worry that I am excluding people from information and connection, as we’re doing most things online now. The guidelines are constantly changing too, so it can be hard to keep up. I’m really grateful for the support from Paths for All. They help us to interpret the guidelines and provide a chance to ‘meet up’ with other walking projects around the country.
I love Nairn’s beaches for the space they offer and the beautiful, big, sea and sky scape; no two days are the same. In my spare time I enjoy the local countryside with my dog, Aspen.