When Angie Le Mar felt a “God prompt” to invite people to a walk on Facebook she had no idea that she was starting a movement that was badly needed. Now We Walk Wednesdays runs in 16 locations and there are hiking, talking, golfing and dining versions to connect people.
This time last year the UK was battling with COVID-19 and we were just coming out of a year and a half of lockdowns. Mental health was at an all time low as we processed 18 months of missing out on physical contact with friends and family, and had to hear a constant stream of reports of infection rates and deaths from the virus. Amid this negativity, I had a God idea to put a notice on Facebook, asking people to meet at Hilly Fields, in Lewisham south London to walk around the park, get some exercise and meet with others.
To my surprise people turned up. I added some warmup exercise and laughter therapy and We Walk Wednesday (WWW) was born. Those who attended that first event loved it. From starting off with a handful of people, WWW grew and we started attracting men and women of all ages, from across London who wanted to join us on the walk. More importantly, people made new friends and felt encouraged and supported to take their health and fitness seriously.
Such has been the impact of WWW, that 13 months later, there are now 16 We Walk Wednesdays groups across London and the UK – and its still growing. People are recognising the mental health and well-being benefits of walking with others. People of all ages, races and cultures take part in WWW. We’ve even had a few celebrities join us including ITN newsreader Charlene White, Diane Abbott MP and journalist and broadcaster Brenda Emmanus.
The atmosphere at a We Walk Wednesday walk reminds me of church - everyone is made to feel welcome.
The atmosphere at a WWW walk reminds me of church. Everyone is made to feel welcome – whether they take part just once or become a regular walker in groups. And people who’ve attended a WWW walk have said love the relaxed atmosphere of the groups and they found it easy to just be themselves, to talk about their lives and relate to others in a very real and authentic way.
People constantly tell me what the group means to them. For those who live on their own WWW has become a lifeline. For others it’s given them the opportunity to connect with friends – new and old. And then there are those for whom WWW has inspired them to be more serious about improving their health and fitness. One participant told me that she has now started going swimming regularly and walking more frequently since starting WWW.
More than anything We Walk Wednesday has made me realise that people need people. We were not meant to be alone.
Since starting the scheme last year, I have branched out and increased the number of activities we organise. We started We Hike in April, a monthly activity where we take hikes around London. As well as We Talk, where we gather to talk about issues affecting our communities and the wider world. Plus two more; We Golf and We Dine are in the works.
It’s a wonderful thing to go for walks, with others, surrounding by the beauty of nature. I think God wants us to reconnect with nature, ourselves and others. WWW provides people with opportunities to do this. More than anything WWW has made me realise that people need people. We were not meant to be alone. God is using WWW to remind people of this fact.