Leyburn walking group gets people back on their feet after lockdown isolation

The walking group heading out for a 9.30am walk – with Gill and Diana Jolland.

A walking group in Leyburn is helping people get back on their feet and into the community as lockdown eases.

The group is run by volunteers and has started up again after many of the members had been isolated during lockdown and were keen to get out and about.

It’s been running for the past five years and has around 30 members, with 10-20 people usually participating on each walk.

Gill Mitchell, who deals with the group admin, said as lockdown began to lift members got in touch to ask when the walks would be back on.

She said: “We had to stop in lockdown but once it began to ease, people started contacting us to ask when it was coming back.

“Some members of our group live alone, are widows or widowers or don’t have family locally so have been very isolated during lockdown and both the social and exercise elements of the walks are important to them.”

Gill said they decided to start the walks again and have devised a way to do it safely.

They head out in smaller groups led by keen walker Diana Jolland, ensuring they are socially distant and armed with hand sanitiser.

Gill added: “We’ve done four walks so far, we have four or five walks that we do regularly that are around three to five miles long.

“We go and try to keep up a good pace, and before we’d all have a coffee afterwards. It’s harder to do that now but we are still managing to get it in where it’s safe.

“Everyone has welcomed back the opportunity to get out and about and have a catch up with their friends after lockdown.”

The routes include a circular walk of the Leyburn Shawl, The Old Glebe Nature Reserve and the River Ure, Leyburn Show Ground and Harmby Waterfall and Spennithorne and Harmby.

Gill added she’s been going to the group from the start.

She said: “It’s important for some of the people who go to have that companionship and to keep fit. Lockdown has been hard, especially for people living alone, so it’s good to get out again.”

The group comes under Leyburn Arts and Community Centre, which is currently operating as a CSO.

North Yorkshire County Council has created 23 hubs across the county to co-ordinate volunteer efforts in each area and ensure there is one point of easy contact for anyone in the community to go to should they need support.

The “hubs” are continuing this support – from delivering food and prescriptions to providing a friendly face and conversation during Covid-19.

Gary Fielding, corporate director of strategic resources, said: “Thousands of people across North Yorkshire have shown how integral teamwork and community spirit is to our county by volunteering – whether that’s in an official capacity, or simply checking in on friends and family who need it.

“Volunteer groups like this one have provided vital lifelines to people who need it as we wrangle with the ‘new normal’ and getting back to life after lockdown. A walking group provides social opportunities along with getting outdoors and getting fit and it’s fantastic it’s restarted.

“Many people have relied on the army of volunteers who’ve selflessly put themselves forward during the Covid-19 pandemic and that willingness to help others should be a comfort to residents.”

Anyone who needs to arrange help can contact the county council’s customer service centre on 01609 780780 seven days a week 8am to 5.30pm.

Find more information about help for people during isolation at www.northyorks.gov.uk/coronavirus