Burnside Centre Sole Steppers

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GM Walking has given grants to local voluntary and community groups with the aim of getting Greater Manchester walking. We offered the grants to support a huge range of activities that encourage people who are usually less active to start or to increase the amount they walk regularly.

One of the groups benefitting from this was the Burnside Centre, which is based in Langley in Middleton (part of the borough of Rochdale). Here we look at what they did and how they got on.

What is the Burnside Centre?

The Burnside Centre is a grass-roots community centre for anyone who may need its support, particularly those who are facing hardship or social isolation. Many of its service users are young families and those over the age of 50. The centre offers a wide and holistic range of health and wellbeing sessions and activities for local people. They also support people with further agency referrals, and also emergency food and essential supplies.

What was the project?

The centre set up a beginners walking group called Sole Steppers for its service users. They met twice a week, taking advantage of local parks and routes. As the group got fitter and increased the distance they were able to walk, the centre took them out on a number of trips to scenic spots such as Bolton Abbey. The centre also ran some social brunch gatherings both to help reduce social isolation and to get feedback and ideas from the group on how to develop it further and ensure it remains sustainable.

Who took part?

Over 50 people attended the group at some stage, with around 30 still regularly attending.



How did it go?

The project was a fantastic success. Sole Steppers was one of the centre’s first groups to launch after the national lockdowns due to it being outdoors. This meant that participants felt safe to get involved as they knew the sessions would be appropriately socially distanced.

Some of the group members previously lacked confidence in walking due to not having anyone to walk with and feeling that they’d hold others back. However, the sessions have really helped group members to build their confidence and all have increased the length of time they’re able to walk for, with many now able to do walks of up to 10km. The social aspect of the walking group has been wonderful too, particularly after many people facing social isolation. Friendships have blossomed and there is a real community spirit to the group which has continued to strengthen over time.

Feedback from participants

“It is so nice to walk with other people from the estate and outside of Langley too. I feel safe going out in a group”

“I enjoy the group, meeting up with other people and learning about different local walks”

“I thoroughly look forward to attending each week”

“Coming to the walks has helped me to control my type 2 diabetes. It is a good group with like-minded people”

For more information

To find out more about the Burnside Centre, the activities on offer and how you can get involved, please see website and Facebook.

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