Homelessness deprives people of so many little things that we can take for granted.
People staying at hostels may be recovering from mental health issues and substance misuse. They may have moved to an area they do not know, and be nervous about going outside. Taking time to socialise, exercise, or visit a café can feel extremely daunting.
In central London, a group of hostel residents have started a walking club. It helps them to overcome isolation, and lets them take a break from their daily routine.
The residents choose where they will go each week. Trips have included walking to the Thames, and to landmarks such as Westminster Cathedral and Buckingham Palace. The group also visited Vauxhall City farm and had a picnic, in spite of wet weather.
Church Homeless Trust funds the costs of coffees, picnic food, and snacks, as well as materials such as paper and pens for games and workshops.
Outings like these help homeless people build the confidence to settle into a new neighbourhood when they move on. They feel more able to develop new friendships and explore their community.
Camille, who has been living at one of the services for several months, said:
“I found the walking group a great opportunity to get to know the local area, and a good way to get to know the community.”
The groups are encouraged to notice their environment, especially plants and nature, and enjoy the time outside. They have time to think about the impact that healthy activities have on their overall mood.
Those that regularly join the walks have all felt an improvement in their mental health, as well as getting regular exercise. They enjoy going out together and feeling able to join the local community. Two regular walkers commented:
“It was a privilege to get out of the house and have a coffee and a walk.”
“Many of us don’t have the money to go to a coffee shop and it’s a really good space to have a chat.”