Walking for Wellbeing is a local Community Interest Company which supports young people in schools who are struggling to improve their physical and emotional wellbeing, through walking and talking in nature. Its founder Michelle Wainwright was first signposted to us after attending a wellbeing event in Horsham. She met Groups Advisor Karl Parks and introduced her idea to him. “He instantly got behind my project,” said Michelle. “He was really passionate about it which spurred me on more.”
Prior to this meeting, Michelle was unsure about the steps she needed to take to make her project a reality. Karl planted the idea of turning it into a CIC, and gave Michelle the time to go away, do some research, and think about it. Michelle said she spent some time online, but was put off by all the paperwork and options. “I am so grateful to Karl, as I could bring specific information about Walking for Wellbeing to him, and he could relate it to becoming a CIC. It was so helpful to talk to a human about the process.” She described the meetings with Karl as very relaxed, informal but also business-like and appreciated leaving each one with a clear plan of action. “I never felt overwhelmed. Even though we were talking about things I’d never heard of and knew nothing about, he made it feel accessible and achievable.”
Michelle described Karl’s support as invaluable and said: “I feel like I’m way ahead. It got my project off to a really good start.” Since converting Walking for Wellbeing into a CIC and joining the CREW Project, Michelle has supported around a dozen young people to make positive changes, and has more work booked going forward. Two year-10 boys from one local secondary school are no longer on school report – the first time in years – and they have put it down to the support they received from Walking for Wellbeing. During the walks Michelle gives them responsibility, helps them to look at themselves and identify their strengths, discusses things that are concerning them, and helps them to relax and become more resilient. She describes the process as “digging for gold”.
Her vision for Walking for Wellbeing is to reach young people outside of schools as well, linking in particular with mental health support groups and young carers. Karl has provided support around creating a business plan, which Michelle would like to develop, and will also be Michelle’s first port of call when it comes to securing funding for the project. “When I’m ready to pick this up, I know I can go back to Karl and talk that through. He has made it very clear that he’s available to help.”