Meet Living Streets
Living Streets is a UK charity who works to achieve a better walking environment for everyone and inspire people to walk more.
They do this through their projects such as Walking Connects and Walk To School Outreach, as well as other ways such as their volunteer work in the community, working with the public sector and companies, and more.
Here in Stoke-on-Trent, they have been running a programme to support more people to get walking and reduce loneliness and isolation.
We had a chat with Preet, Walking Connects Project Co-ordinator (Stoke), about their work.
What does Living Streets do?
Living Streets is a charity for everyday walking. We want walking to be the natural choice for everyday, local journeys. We want to achieve a better walking environment and inspire people of all generations to enjoy the benefits the simple act of walking brings.
For over 90 years we’ve been a beacon for walking. In our early days, our campaigning led to the UK’s first zebra crossings and speed limits. Now our national campaigns and local projects deliver real change to overcome barriers to walking and our ground-breaking initiatives encourage millions of people to walk more.
How do you help the local community to get walking more?
We are proud to be delivering Walking Connects 2022-23, funded by the Department for Transport’s Tackling Loneliness with Transport Fund, which engages people over 50 in Bolton, Wigan, Lancashire and Stoke-on-Trent where we know there are higher levels of loneliness and deprivation, and lower walking rates.
We are working with communities in these areas to train up to 40 volunteer walk leaders, leading walks and training over 50 Community Street Reviewers who will be equipped with the skills and knowledge to make recommendations about their local walking environment.
The project legacy will be guaranteed through the set-up of Living Streets local groups, led by community focused volunteers who create conversations around issues that encourage more people to walk and advocate for better streets for all.
Please can you tell us a bit about the walking groups that run in Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent?
Please see the below posters for information about our led walks locally:
- Hanley – Every Wednesday at 11am.
- Longton Park – Every Tuesday at 10:15am.
- Knypersley Pool – Every Thursday at 1:30pm.
- Westport Lake – Monday 12th June at 10:30am.
How do you think walking benefits people?
The simple act of walking has a hugely positive impact on our physical health and mental wellbeing. Not only is it good for our health, but walking also brings a whole host of social benefits, such as forming friendships and creating more connected communities.
We have had lots of feedback from participants that they are feeling happier, mentally and physically fitter, healthier and more connected to others whilst and after engaging in our walking activities and volunteer opportunities.
How do you think walking benefits people’s mental health?
By connecting with nature and others and making new friendships, we see a reduction in isolation, loneliness, anxiety, and depression. Therefore less pressure on the NHS.
Do you think walking is accessible enough for people in Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent?
Participants report that they would like walking to be more accessible; we are working on this by getting our volunteers out reviewing the streets for barriers to walking which we will help them report to the local authority.
Many people over 50 are physically inactive, feel socially isolated or are at risk of becoming so. Getting out and about in our neighbourhood is a vital way of maintaining independence and feeling socially connected.
However, many of us feel discouraged from walking due to poorly maintained and cluttered pavements, inadequate crossings, feeling unsafe or a lack of places to rest.
How do you think it could be more accessible?
Better maintained and uncluttered pavements, adequate crossings, feeling safe (walking in groups helps this), having plenty of places to rest, and toilet facilities on route.
What advice do you have for someone wanting to try out walking?
No need to be nervous; come along to our welcoming, inclusive and friendly groups to join short 30-35 minute walks. Suitable for those with mobility issues; they will soon have the walking bug!
You can find out more about Living Streets and the work they do on their website.