Walking & Talking: Easing Post-Covid Isolation -Libby Thompson, Wimbledon High School
Every Saturday at 10:30 am, neighbours gather in their local parks in South West London to take part in the Walk and Talk movement. This is an opportunity for people to come together and enjoy their local green spaces though a fun and healthy weekly wander and a chat. This movement aims to alleviate loneliness through a truly inclusive experience which welcomes all ages, abilities, pets, and buggies, whilst promoting physical and mental wellbeing.
In 2021, when communities were largely estranged and the effects of lockdown loneliness were as prevalent as ever, Andy Yates and Ali Palmer started an initiative to bring back a sense of togetherness in Wimbledon. As a result, on the 27th of September, the Walk and Talk movement held it’s first walk on Wimbledon Park. It has since grown in numbers and locations, with walks now happening in not just Wimbledon Park, but also Plough Lane, Canon’s House, Morden Hall Park, Colliers Wood, Wandle Valley, and from March 11th, Tooting Common.
I went on one of such walks on Wimbledon Common, on a rather grey and rainy Saturday morning. Due to the miserable weather, I was under the impression that the walk would be short and rather quiet, so it was to my pleasant surprise to see over 15 keen walkers gathered around the Wimbledon Park Café, ready to get going. Everyone was extremely welcoming to the newcomers, but especially so to those who came with their dogs.
I spoke to Andy Adamson, a volunteer who leads the Wimbledon Park walks, and he told me he’d been taking part since the very beginning, when the walks were still ‘very much a pandemic venture.’ When asked why he decided to volunteer for the Walk and Talk movement, he told me, ‘It inspired me that people were stuck in their houses and also not able to see a lot of friends, so the idea was to help out at an event that anyone could come to, and we would walk and talk.’ I also asked his why he thought organizations like this one were and continue to be important, to which he replied, ‘We are recently separated from people, I mean families are often further apart physically than they use to be before Covid, and I think Covid made people realise the value in their communities. So, it’s important to make sure we acctually make the effort to get to know our neighbors again after so long apart.’
They are always looking for new volunteers to help lead the walks, with little experience or training needed. Equally, everyone is invited and welcome to join for a walk, if you want to get involved, visit the Walk and Talk website to find a walk near you.