Case Study - April 2022

This case study has been kindly completed by Elspeth Gracey, who is one of our valued Community Green Team volunteers.

This is  case study with the Health Walk leader

Adult health walks began as a pilot project in July 2021. Subsequently they were opened to the public in September 2021. Walks take place on Wednesdays and Fridays. Walks on Wednesdays last for an hour and cover approximately 2 miles. Friday walks last for about 2 hours and cover 5-6 miles, so a faster pace than on Wednesdays. All walks leave from the Heart of Scotstoun community centre and return there for a light lunch afterwards.

The maximum number of participants for each walk is 12 and Wednesday walks frequently have the maximum number of participants. Friday walks have on average 6-8 participants. Most of the participants are women but 2 men also take part. The age of participants varies with an average age of 60; the oldest participant is 85. While some people only attend on either a Wednesday or a Friday some take part in both walks.

When asked about how people in general approach their first walk the walk leader has observed “curiosity, hesitancy and occasionally nervousness”

Reflecting on the changes seen in participants and the benefits that they have reported to her the walk leader described the following changes and benefits:-

Increased social connections

The provision of a shared meal after the walk has allowed increased social connection for the walkers. While people unwind after the physical exercise of the walk this provides further time to get to know each other better. People within the group come from varied backgrounds and social circumstances and some have reported that they are meeting people they would not normally meet. This has included having to reassess their first impressions of other people thus challenging any tendency to stereotyping or judgemental views of others.

Participants can sign up, if they wish, to a WhatsApp group and 24 people have done so, providing another way of connecting with each other in addition to the walks themselves.

Development of support networks

Some individuals will ‘open up’ to either the walk leader herself or other members of the group who become close confidants. Some have experienced very challenging life circumstances and the walk leader has seen highly committed support networks develop, actively supporting someone through difficult times.

Confidence building

The health walks have, quite naturally, attracted some people who have specific health conditions which for some may have lead to erosion of self confidence and/or social isolation. As time passes these same people are reporting that they have gained the confidence to go out walking on their own and also to explore new routes. Some people tell the walk leader that taking part in the walking group has “opened doors” for them in ways they hadn’t anticipated.

The walk leader describes observing a change in demeanour as people become accustomed to the walking group with fewer signs of nervousness or anxiety. She described this as being dissipated or “diluted” by the group.

Several people within the walking group comment on increased knowledge of their local area. A common comment being “I didn’t even know that was there”.

Improved general health and well being

As well as the physical benefits of regular walking some members of the group are now regular participants in a whole range of activities offered within the Heart of Scotstoun Community Centre. This has further enhanced their social connections within their local community bolstering general health and well being.

One participant prioritises the walking group as extremely important to their mental well being - describing the group as the rare “me time” within a busy and challenging life.

Increased awareness of environmental issues

Since the walks are organised by the Glasgow Eco Trust the walk leader is able to update people on the events in which the Trust is involved. Some people have reactivated their interest in cycling and have used the Trust’s De’ils on Wheels service to buy or service bicycles. Awareness of food waste has also been discussed and a range of other environmental issues can be highlighted in the informal atmosphere of the group either during the walk or over lunch afterwards.