Hiking for mental health

Hiking for mental health

By Col

Hiking for Mental Health is more than just a trail—it’s a lifeline. Step by step, people find hope and community through nature’s healing embrace.

Next Stage are based in Westhoughton and support vulnerable people in supported living projects throughout the North West. These people suffer from Mental Health and Learning Disabilities and usually require 24/7 care.

Lica Marchant, Director of Operations, who set up the project said “As an organisation whose focus is firmly on the well-being of its workforce a number of opportunities have been arranged to reflect how we collectively look after ourselves and each other. One example is through setting up well-being walks on a monthly basis. Research tells us that exercise and fresh air are two of the best ways to energise and invigorate."

To be able to open up the oppurtunities to helppeople get out it was important to have the skill sets within the company to do this safely. So back in 2019 with some help from the Alpkit Foundation, Next Stagesent three employees on a Hill & Mountain Skills training course run by Mountain Training and the British Mountaineering Council. This gave the three employees the skills and confidence to lead groups of people on walks to Snowdon, Ben Nevis, Coniston, Pendle Hill, Kinder Scout, Grasmere, Rivington, Wayoh & Entwistle.

Next Stage have had a total of 84 people hiking this year, covering a distance of over 130km and climbed 8522 metres.

"Feedback received from the people they support has been from ‘the best day of my life’ and ‘hiking makes me forget any bad thoughts’ to young people who had never visited the Lake District planning on relocating there in the future whereas they had no aspirations before this.”

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