Bedford joins national Mental Health Mates’ Big Walk in September

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This September, Bedford will join dozens of other towns and cities up and down the UK to take part in Bryony’s Big Walk, created by the founder of Mental Health Mates.

The initiative is a UK-wide call to get Britain moving for their mental health through community peer support groups.

Set up by journalist, author and mental health advocate, Bryony Gordon, Mental Health Mates was launched in 2016 after Bryony, struggling with her own mental health, took to Twitter to ask if anyone fancied joining her for a walk.

That cold February morning, 20 people joined Bryony for a stroll around Hyde Park, reaping the benefits of moving for their mental health and connecting in a space free of judgment.

Seven years on, Mental Health Mates walks happen in over 150 locations across the UK, including Bedford.

Led by regional volunteers, these walks provide an important opportunity to connect with others and take preventative measures to improve mental well-being.

“We know, from personal experience, that mental illness magnifies through isolation,” said Bryony.

“So whether it is talking to someone, sharing with them or simply walking beside them, we believe that getting connected is the first step to recovery.”

Joining up with dozens of walks across the UK, Mental Health Mates Bedford will be heading out at 11am on the morning of Saturday 23 September to remind all of those in the local community of the power of movement and connection, to help us feel better.

You just need to turn up at the Pavilion cafe in Bedford Park from 10.45am to begin the walk at 11am. No booking is necessary and the walk is completely free.

With the cost-of-living crisis exacerbating people’s feelings of anxiety and isolation, Mental Health Mates is hoping that this Big Walk will help remind everybody, everywhere of the power of movement in helping how we feel.

Mental Health Mates’ founder, Bryony Gordon. Image: Mental Health Mates

Bryony will be leading a walk from London’s Hyde Park at 11am on Saturday and virtually ‘meeting up’ with Mental Health Mates volunteer-led walks across the country throughout the morning, to celebrate the wonderful community that has been created since its inception in 2016.

Mental Health Mates hope that this weekend’s big walk will inspire people everywhere to either join a walk, join the Mental Health Mates volunteering community, or simply don their trainers and head out for some well-needed fresh air.

“The work that Bryony has done to remove the stigma around mental health cannot be underestimated,” said Bedford volunteer leader, Cory Walker.

“The Mental Health Mates walks have resumed in Bedford since the pandemic and are a relaxing way to meet people, share experiences and connect in the fresh air.

“There’s no need to have a mental health diagnosis to come along and there’s no pressure to talk. I’d encourage anyone to join us.”

You can also donate to support the work of Mental Health Mates at their crowdfunder here.