What a difference a walk made! As the third national lockdown comes to a gradual end, we are reflecting on what Harrow Mencap’s Connecting Communities programme was able to achieve during that period. Throughout the third lockdown in January and February, the Connecting Communities team continued to deliver a vital support service made up of small walking groups leading walks across different areas around Hertfordshire, Buckinghamshire, and the London Borough of Hillingdon, complete with delicious, homemade packed lunches. The walks have presented many socially isolated people with an opportunity to keep active and socialise in a manner that is safe and in keeping with government guidelines. This has improved participants’ mental wellbeing and physical health. Through these walks, new friendships have been made, and people have been able to go for additional friendly 1 to 1 walks of their own, separate from Harrow Mencap. This has helped prevent loneliness and isolation in the community. Here are the comments and favourite moments of some of the regular participants: Jeremy Child (Main Walking Leader) It’s been an absolute joy running this project over the past year and we so hope to expand and develop it widely in the coming year. James Keeler (Walking Leader) It’s given me great satisfaction leading the short walks and seeing the happy expressions on people’s faces as they walk in the countryside. Favourite moments: Making contact with Herons Restaurant and Christ Church both in Chorleywood who have started engaging with us at Harrow Mencap Connecting Communities. So good to move into these new areas. Josephine Child (Walking Leader) It’s been wonderful to be able to leave the house and lead for others in the beautiful countryside. Favourite moments: Exploring different areas, seeing other people and wildlife like ponies. Richard Munslow (Full-time family carer) Being able to get out the house for a couple of hours to meet people, exercise and get some fresh air once a week. Favourite moments: For me Exploring where so many different footpaths lead to. Richard Hill (Volunteer / supported living resident) Love to get out to meet others. It gives me a good feeling. Recently experienced covid but keeping fit from this exercise helped me to recover very quickly. Favourite moments: Looking at different houses and exploring beautiful gardens. Julia Mead (Core volunteer) Love this as well as everything Harrow Mencap has done for me. Favourite moments: Just love walking with others. Irfan Siddiqui (Volunteer) Tuesday Walking has helped me to deal with my emotions. Favourite moments: Exploring different routes. John Pearce (Core volunteer) I love Harrow Mencap. These Winter Lockdowns have prevented me from suffering from social isolation. They have kept me really fit and healthy. Favourite moments: Visiting walled gardens. Jonathan Wilding (Core volunteer) Harrow Mencap really helps me build my confidence. I have missed the Supermarkets Collections during lockdown but I have found the walks adventurous helping me obtain fresh air and improve my immune system walking in different areas. Favourite moments: Just being with my old friends again and making new ones socially distanced.