In May 2017, Reading Voluntary Action set up Tilehurst Together with a grant from Berkshire Community Foundation’s ‘A Life Less Lonely’ programme. Over the last year, the project has brought people in the Tilehurst area together every week, alternating between a fortnightly walking group and fortnightly activity sessions focusing on health, relaxation and crafts.
The project has worked closely with Tilehurst Surgery, who said: ‘Being able to advise patients that there is a local group meeting for short walks and/or activity sessions has been so useful…Being part of a local community activity has also been such a positive experience for the surgery’.
Group members described the group as enjoyable, well-organised (thanks to coordinators Cat MacLeod and Christina Hughes Nin), interesting, calming, welcoming, warm and very relaxing. ‘It is so good to do something that’s just for me’, said one participant who is a carer for a family member, while another commented ‘This scheme is wonderful – just what we need in society today – a real antidote to all the isolated online lives people lead’.
The walks have proved particularly popular, and walkers have turned out in all weathers. Though Tilehurst Together ended last month, the walking group is continuing under the umbrella of Walking for Health. The group will continue to meet fortnightly for a 30-minute walk, followed by an opportunity to sit and chat over coffee. Members of the walking group are also meeting up separately to do walks with new friends made through Tilehurst Together.