All in a day’s walk

I’ve often seen this group of walkers, converging on the Hospice on Wednesday mornings – come rain or shine. As an outsider, they all seemed like ‘old friends’, easy in each other’s company, who create quite a buzz in the Hospice Living Room as they wait for group members to join them before heading out.

All through the winter I surreptitiously eavesdropped a little and wondered where they walked. They even went out in the depths of winter when the snow was falling and there was ice on the ground. I was curious, but didn’t fancy finding out more until the weather improved! So I waited for a sunny spring morning to see what it is they had to talk about.

This is the Hospice ‘Walk and Talk’ group. Established two years ago to enable bereaved people an informal regular opportunity to meet and talk while taking a walk.

Run by a handful of dedicated volunteers – Bob, Russell and Claire – The Walk and Talk Group has been a huge success and become a valuable part of our bereavement service, which people can dip in and out of as they choose and offers a different type of support to the one-to-one or more formal groups.

Walking routes start at our North Finchley site and tend to gravitate towards a local watering hole en route, where the group can stop for a cuppa and a chat. For many it has been a lifeline and a continued connection with the Hospice after the loss of a loved one.

Marilyn Newall described the group as a ‘life saver’ after her husband died.

It gives me a reason to get up in the morning, get dressed and get out of the house. I’ve got to know so many new people, and it keeps me active, it’s fantastic!

The Hospice initially set up the Walk and Talk Group to fill the gap for people who have lost a loved one, but who might not want one-to-one bereavement counselling.

Nigel Senett who walks with the group every week, feels the support and understanding he gets from other group members, “more than fills the gap” and has helped him understand that he wasn’t alone in his grief, and others who had been bereaved, could share his sense of loss and how he felt.

Indeed, this seems to be a central point around which all the walkers agree. They are able to relate to each other and understand the loss, simply because they have experienced loss themselves.

I talked to group member Terry Shields on the return walk. We walked through pretty Friary Park, resplendent in springtime colour. Terry lost both his parents and a beloved cousin in quick succession. He felt his life had stopped and there was nothing else that he could look forward to. Terry joined the group at its inception and has slowly seen his life open up again.

His circle of friends has widened, his health has improved because the walking has helped with his diabetes.

“It’s not all doom and gloom, you know…we were all people, before we were bereaved, we can and do talk about other things! We have organised walks on Hampstead Heath or a walk to watch the sun go down, it’s all about life…

Written by Rita Saggar, Hospice staff

Walk and Talk Group Information Leaflet

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