Picture of people on a walk

South West London loneliness reduced by the Walk and Talk Movement

The Walk and Talk Movement was initially founded in 2021 to help bring together communities of people who were suffering from loneliness after the pandemic. 

Since then, more than 500 weekly Walk and Talk events have been successfully run by the community and more than 10,000 participants have joined. 

They now run community-led walks every Saturday morning year-round, across eight South West London locations: Tooting Common, Pollards Hill, King George’s Park in Wandsworth, Colliers Wood, Canons House in Mitcham, Morden Hall Park, and both Wimbledon Park and Wimbledon Common, with no membership or booking required. 

Andy Yates, co-founder of the Walk and Talk Movement, said: “During the pandemic we realised people were getting more and more lonely and isolated, so the Walk and Talk Movement was a way of getting people back together and connecting outdoors in a laid back and simple way.

“It’s really worked, people love it and just keep coming back whatever the weather.”

The Government’s Community Life Survey of 2021/22 showed that 6% of respondents (amounting to approximately three million people in England), say they feel lonely often or always, with men 32% more likely to feel lonely than women.

Research has also shown that participating in community activities such as walking groups not only helps to alleviate loneliness and feelings of isolation, but also promotes overall well-being, with the UK’s Loneliness Awareness Week, held annually in June, actively encouraging people to join a local walking group as a result. 

Rob Kerr, who first started attending Merton Hall’s Walk and Talk Movement with his father, aged 83, in 2021, spoke poignantly about the impact the walks have had upon his father’s life. 

He said: “The Walk and Talk Movement has had such a knock-on effect. Through doing this he’s met more and more people and started going to lots of different clubs – he now has a better social life than me!

“To have that social life and friends at 83, more than he’s ever had before, is just incredible.”

Morden Hall Park Sign
Showcasing South West London’s leafy side: Morden Hall Park, a Walk and Talk Movement location. Picture credit: Ruth Stainer.

The groups see attendees from a variety of different ages, backgrounds and fitness levels, and are encouraged to come either on their own or in groups. 

Some see numbers of up to 50 people attending at one time, with, according to their own research, 97% of attendees saying they would recommend a Walk and Talk Movement group to a friend, and over 83% attending either weekly or fortnightly. 

In future, the group is looking to expand Walk and Talk Movements from beyond South West London to across the country, with Yates speaking highly about the work they hope to do in tackling loneliness nationwide. 

He said: “The format won’t change as the walks are very successfully run by the local people, which keeps them sustainable.

“But we want to expand it so that other areas can benefit from the amazing friendships and community spirit they create.

“The reality is that many people urgently need the community these walks provide, and it’s just a privilege to help run them.”

To learn more about the Walk and Talk Movement and find one near you, or enquire about how to set up your own in your local area, visit Walk and Talk Movement’s website.

Featured image credit: The Walk and Talk Movement.

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