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 organisations benefitting from this was Manchester Deaf Centre. Here we look at what they did and how they got on.
What is Manchester Deaf Centre?
Manchester Deaf Centre is the largest organisation to provide support to the local deaf community and beyond in Greater Manchester. They host a variety of services and groups that offer support, learning and training opportunities, social events and much more. They also work with a large variety of organisations to promote access and inclusion for deaf and hard of hearing people within Manchester and its surrounding districts.
What was the project?
The goal of the project was to set up a fortnightly walking group for deaf, hard of hearing and deafened people living in the Greater Manchester area. The group started to meet after lockdown restrictions were lifted in the spring of 2021 and continued to walk once a fortnight throughout the summer.
How did it go?
The project has been a great success. It consisted of nine walks and the distance covered totalled over 50km. Most of the walks involved visiting and exploring different Manchester parks including Debdale Park, Heaton Park, Alexandra Park, and Whitworth Park. Other visits have included museums and cafes, with the group walking there and back, sometimes for over 90 minutes.
The community made group decisions on where they wanted to walk and visit and were involved with all the planning of the activity including the route, transport, where to stop for refreshments etc. This increased the group’s confidence and independence whilst improving life skills.
Due to COVID and communication barriers, the some of the group members had not been out for over 18 months. They thoroughly enjoyed communicating in their own language whilst improving their fitness levels. Some of the participants had limited life/money skills so the project leaders incorporated this learning when buying lunch. Group members who had initially been apprehensive to order their own lunch were doing so independently after just a couple of weeks.
Feedback from participants
“Speaking on behalf of my daughter, I would just like to say how absolutely fantastic the walkabout has been. The fact she can get out and about with a group of her peers has had a huge effect on both her mental and physical health. To be able to visit all different parks and places, independent from me, with a group who she can communicate with has been brilliant, especially as she and a lot of deaf people can feel extremely isolated. After this last year and a half, we have all realised how important being outside in nature is for our overall wellbeing, and I do hope that there will be another chance for this to happen again”
For more information
To find out more about Manchester Deaf Centre, the activities on offer and how you can get involved, please see their website and Facebook.