A look at how voluntary and community organisations helped with a grant from the GM Walking and Wheeling Fund have supported their community to move more regularly.
The GM Walking and Wheeling Fund aims to get Greater Manchester more active with grants supporting a huge range of projects that encourage our communities to connect with others and get active together through walking and wheeling.
One of the groups benefitting from this was Future Directions, an Oldham-based social care provider which runs a friendship group called Friends for Life for people with learning disabilities, mental health needs, and autism spectrum conditions.
Here, Jennifer Neville tells us more about their Litter-Picking Superheroes project and what’s next for them.
About the project
The Litter-Picking Superheroes project was a series of walks and wheels around Stockport, Oldham, and Rochdale for Friends for Life group members and their support workers.
Group members have a range of support needs including, people who use wheelchairs and mobility aids and people who do not use speech to communicate.
The funding enabled the project to buy all the necessary litter-picking equipment, as well as some winter clothing to keep the group warm during the colder weather.
As well as opportunity to get outdoors, explore new places, and be active, each session ended at a local café for a free drink and a snack, giving everyone a chance to socialise together.
The project also developed easy-read and accessible resources to promote litter-pick walks and wheels, and ran a litter-picking challenge to encourage group members to carry on their great work outside of the arranged walks/wheels.
How did it go?
During the nine walks/wheels, the group worked together to collect and dispose of an amazing 60 kilos of litter.
They loved the chance to get outside and get active together while helping to keep their communities clean and tidy. The group also loved speaking to people passing by who stopped to chat and thank them for their efforts.
Group member Philip said he enjoyed meeting up with friends he hadn’t seen for a while. Hamza said he’d recently had a fall but that coming on the walks had helped to rebuild his confidence and given him something positive to think about.
All the group said that being part of this project increased their confidence in walking to places, and the majority also said that they had increased the number and length of their walks each week.
“The water was glistening, the sun was shining. You feel good because it’s helping the environment and your wellbeing. You do lots of steps. We do it when we are bored. It’s a good way of meeting people. People stop and talk. You get the sunlight. It’s good for your brains and lungs.”
There were learnings around the different processes each local authority had for litter picking and the need for facilitators/supports to plan for people to travel at their own speed.
The Manchester weather also got involved causing one litter pick to be postponed, but the café meet still went ahead and the challenge allowed people to get out when it suited them better.
The funding was useful for participants but also supported Future Directions to, through links with other support providers, identify new groups and activities which may interest their users.
The Litter-Picking Superheroes are continuing their fantastic work with monthly litter picks in Trafford and Milnrow, Rochdale. They’ve also shared information about the litter picks with other support providers and community groups to encourage more local connections.
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