Although Wiltshire Council’s Get Wiltshire Walking programme has been suspended, the council’s walking coordinators have made more than 100 calls to the group members to ensure they feel supported and connected during this difficult time.
The programme generally engages older people, many of whom live on their own and may be feeling isolated without their regular Get Wiltshire Walking walk and get-together. Wiltshire Council’s two walk coordinators, Louise Gale and Natalie Parker, have kept in touch with the members and to check they are ok. Not only that, the coordinators have been encouraging the members to stay in contact with each other via phone/text/email, buddy up where they can, and look out for one another during the ongoing situation.
The team will stay in contact as much as possible with the group over the coming weeks.
Cllr Philip Whitehead, Leader of Wiltshire Council, said: “We care about the people who use our services and I’m pleased we are still able to provide support to our Get Wiltshire Walking groups even though we can’t see them in person.
“We’re acutely aware of how important groups like this are to people and we’ll continue to maintain that community spirit until everyone can get back together for a walk around Wiltshire.”
Louise Gale, Get Wiltshire Walking Coordinator, said: “Calls to our Walk Leaders and walkers have been warmly received and between us we have been able to identify people within our walks who have been feeling lonely and isolated and arrange regular phone calls, texts and email chats to lift their spirits and put a spring back in their step.
“Through our calls we have learnt how some groups are arranging virtual coffee mornings via skype or video calling on WhatsApp at the time they would normally have coffee after the walk, this is another great way to stay connected and enjoy some form of social activity. One thing that every person has said is “we can’t wait until the walks resume and we can all meet up for a walk again”.”
Wiltshire Council wants to help people stay active and connected during the ongoing COVID-19 situation. Services such as libraries, heritage, arts and leisure are working together to support people as much as possible.
Regular updates to council services can be found on their dedicated COVID-19 page at http://www.wiltshire.gov.uk/public-health-coronavirus.