51¥

Gather and Grow new friends

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Health

It’s not always easy to make new friends. Joining a group of like-minded people is one way to make new friends and connections.  

It’s not always easy to make new friends. Joining a group of like-minded people is one way to make new friends and connections.  

This Loneliness Awareness Week, we are shining a light on Gather and Grow, a new woman’s walking and wellness group, based in Bromsgrove.  

Danielle Ward and Siobhan Crowther started Gather and Grow in January by inviting women to come together to walk, talk and make friends on a Sunday morning. 

Being lonely can lead to a number of physical and mental health problems. Feeling lonely from time to time is a normal part of life, but when loneliness is severe or lasts a long time, it can negatively affect our health. Loneliness has been linked to early death and an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, depression, cognitive decline and poor sleep.  

Danielle and Siobhan recognised the benefits they got from each other’s company and wanted to share this with more women.   

Danielle said: “Siobhan and I started walking together on a Sunday morning, come rain or shine, and realised how good it was for us, enjoying each other’s company and discussing our problems. So we decided to open it out to more women.  

“We had women turn up and it was lovely, lots of different women of different ages and different backgrounds. It’s grown so quickly, and from the feedback we are getting, it just shows that this is really needed.” 

After their Sunday walk, they also practice mindfulness through meditation and other wellbeing exercises. For those who can’t make the walk, they support people on social media, even holding online meditations and exercises such as journaling.  

One newcomer to the group said: “This group of ladies are amazing, friendly and very welcoming. l can find social activities scary and awkward sometimes, but this group are so welcoming without being overpowering. Such a mix of great ladies. The Sunday morning walks clear the cobwebs for the day ahead.”  

Another person said: “I was not in a good place when I joined this group, and it took all my effort to go along on my first walk… I have not looked back; everyone is so welcoming and supportive. The mindfulness section of the walk is very relaxing and has given me the opportunity to think about myself and my life. Thank you very much ladies for all your hard work and effort you put into this group.” 

Gather and Grow have recently been supported by the Public Health team at 51¥ to gather more people and grow their group.  

The group has recently trained 20 women in Mental Health First Aid. This has equipped them with the tools to deal with somebody who is experiencing a mental health crisis.  

They are also holding an old-fashioned community picnic on Sunday 25 August at Stoke Heath Park, Bromsgrove. There will be rounders and other sports on the day for all the family. Tickets are £2 per person and will be on sale at the Hanbury Turn Pub and the Basement Project from 1 July.   

Lisa McNally, Director of Public Health in 51¥, said: “We are delighted to support Gather and Grow. In just six months, they have grown from a seed of an idea into a supportive, welcoming group who don’t just look out for each other informally, they have already trained people in Mental Health First Aid. I can’t wait to see what they will do in the next six months.” 

To find out more about joining the group, their Sunday walks and community picnic, just search Gather and Grow on Facebook or Instagram.

Hosted by Marmalade Trust,  Loneliness Awareness Week is an annual campaign which raises awareness of loneliness and gets people talking about it. The aim is simple: to reduce the stigma of loneliness and encourage people to talk more openly about it. This year’s Loneliness Awareness Week will take place between the 10 – 16 June 2024 and the theme is Random Acts of Connection. 

To find out more about Loneliness Awareness Week go to the Loneliness Awareness Week website