Sunday walking group forms in Banbury to help shrink isolation for people with mental health issues
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Mental Health Mates is a national charity charity set up by the journalist and author Bryony Gordon in 2016 after struggling with her own mental health. It has more than 100 groups across the country.
Now a mental health volunteer has started up a Banbury group which enjoyed its first stroll on Sunday.
The group, launched by Tara Lever, a mental health first aider, offers a regular meet-up for people who have had mental health issues – somewhere they can walk and talk without fear of judgement.
She said: “I wanted to bring Mental Health Mates to Banbury as I know many people who would benefit - including myself.
"Mental illness magnifies through isolation. So whether it is talking to someone, sharing with them or simply walking beside them, Mental Health Mates believe that getting connected is the first steps to recovery.
“Lots of people have reached out to say they are so pleased a walking group like this has started up locally,” said Ms Lever.
“I am a trained Mental Health First Aider and have undertaken the Mental Health Mates Walk Leader training. I am certainly not a trained therapist or counsellor but can signpost people to appropriate Mental Health charities if they would like the information.
“Everyone is welcome and the walk is free. We will walk the last Sunday of every month, meeting at the rear (free) car park at 10am. We walk one lap of Spiceball Park then one lap of the reservoir and it takes just under one hour.
“The first walk was yesterday (Sunday). It was a beautiful sunny morning and I am really pleased with the turnout and the feedback received. I posted the photos on Facebook and I've had lots more people reach out to say they would like to join next time.
“There is no pressure to attend every walk, just come to the ones you can. People can email me on [email protected] or send me a message through the Facebook page.”
To find the Mental Health Mates Banbury page see https://www.facebook.com/groups/1432077100579330