A new and exciting event for carers came to Essex in May and broke all national Stepping Out records for the number of people attending. The inaugural Stepping Out walk – outdoor adventures designed for carers and the people they care for – was held at the Basildon Sporting Village. The organisers were expecting a low turnout due to cold, wet weather. Instead, an astonishing 68 people braved the pouring rain to take part.
“I do like walking but I didn’t really want to go out and get wet today. Then I thought, ‘Well, I go shopping in the rain’ and I decided to just get on with it. I’m so glad I did. it was brilliant”, said one of the participants, Rosemary Brooke who attends the Ashleigh Day Centre in Basildon.
Run in partnership with the award-winning Sport for Confidence, Basildon Greenway Ramblers, Active Essex and volunteers from Coach Core, Stepping Out offers scenic, sociable outdoor activities, especially walking, to carers – either on their own or with the people they care for. With an estimated 145,000 family carers in Essex the need for friendly communal events that boost health and well being is clearly established. With a sets of walks on that day that catered for every level of capability, crafted by the Basildon Ramblers, the event and the following lunch were very well received.
“It opened up a new worlds to us,” said Bernard O’Brien who runs the Papworth Day Centre in Basildon. “Despite the weather. If anything it made it a more enjoyable challenge. It was almost like running in the London marathon. You came to the end and you felt what a great achievement. We’d love to do it again, we’re really up for that.”
“It was great to be mixing with so many other people in our local community as well as getting some wonderful exercise.” said Dina Newberry from the Ashleigh Day Centre in Basildon. “It’s done everyone good physically and mentally. It was brilliant that it was so accessible to customers even those with mobility difficulties and those that use wheelchairs. And it was a great team-building opportunity too.”
The Basildon Sporting Village, where occupational therapist, Lyndsey Barrett runs acclaimed and fully-accessible Sport for Confidence sporting and physical activity sessions, hosted the lunch after the walks. The venue acted as a major spur on the day. Many of the participants confided they had been inspired in their own sporting endeavour by the photographs on the walls of Olympic champions like gymnasts Louis Smith and Max Whitlock.
Lyndset Barrett, Founder at Sport For Confidence and Occupational Therapist, says: “Carers have been identified as a group who are particularly prone to inactivity and often feel socially isolated. Through the provision of these Stepping Out sessions, we are introducing carers to the physical, mental and soial benefits of being active.
“Interestingly, a 2017 report titled: ‘Supporting me to be more active’, by the Active Alliance, revealed the activity level of a carer has a direct influence of the activity of the individuals in their care. So, through encouraging carers to be active we hope to positively influences the activity levels of a much wider segment of the community.”
Geoff Forward of The Basildon Greenway Ramblers, adds: “It was so gratifying to see the enthusiasm with which all participants undertook the venture and to see the sense of achievement in overcoming physical and other disabilities to complete the course. It was an experience which all of us in Basildon Greenway will treasure and we shall certainly look forward to joining similar projects in the future”.
The next Stepping Out event in Essex will take place in Southend in July, again im partnership with Sport for Confidence, The Ramblers, Active Essex and supported by Coach Core, Action for Family Carers, Carers First.