Council’s Be Active for Health Programme Helps Produce Walking Leaders
Newry, Mourne and Down District Council is promoting the health benefits of walking by helping to increase the number of local walking groups with trained leaders.
Five members of the Council’s Be Active for Health programme attended the online Walk Leader training course organised by the South Eastern Trust’s Health Development Department. This is a significant achievement for the members who regularly attended weekly Be Active for Health ‘walk and talk’ groups in Delamont Country Park and Castlewellan Forest Park prior to lockdown and now feel ready to support new members in the future. The new leaders can now volunteer to provide safe and enjoyable walks while promoting the health benefits from walking that they have personally experienced.
The Be Active for Health Programme is a district-wide initiative funded by the Council and the Southern and South Eastern Health Trusts. The aim is to support, encourage and provide bespoke physical activity opportunities for people who are inactive. Encouraging lifelong participation to reduce the risk of developing ill health or a long-term health condition, this is a referral only programme for adults who have been referred by a health professional. Throughout the pandemic, service delivery adapted to include online sessions, virtual walking challenges, safe outdoor exercise and weekly videos.
Two of the newly trained leaders, Tracey Quail from Downpatrick, and Janice Bennett from Killyleagh, explained how the time spent on the Be Active for Health programme with the Council’s Health Referral Coordinator Leanne Oakes had empowered them to grow on a personal level but also to help other people and groups within their own communities.
Tracey said, “The Be Active for Health programme has helped me so much, it has been a great lifeline for me, and I now feel strong enough to help other people. I really love and look forward to my walk and talk groups with Leanne as it has given me structure and confidence, and I have made new friends.”
Janice added, “This programme has been lifechanging for me in terms of my confidence, the support and encouragement received, and meeting new people. It has given me my get up and go! I now want to give back by becoming a walk leader.”
Newry, Mourne and Down District Council Chairperson, Councillor Laura Devlin said, “It is extremely positive to hear how five women who originally availed of the Be Active for Health programme have now gone on to become volunteer walk leaders to help and support others.
“By gaining this new skill the leaders can now promote the benefit of physical activity, and specifically walking, on not only physical health, but also our mental health especially during these extremely difficult times. I wish to congratulate the ladies on their achievement and I am delighted that the Be Active for Health programme has helped them along their journey to great health.”
For more information on the Be Active for Health programme, please contact Leanne Oakes on 0330 137 4822.