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Walk on Wednesday’s story

In this story Anna Denham discusses her collaboration with the Walks on Wednesdays (WOW) group, and Nene Park Trust.

In late 2020, I made a plea to some of the Disabled People’s User Led Organisations (DPULOs) that we work with for their support in gathering some case studies. I worked with the National Outdoors for All Working group to contribute to the Out of Bounds report. We needed some positive success stories of how accessibility in green spaces can be achieved. These would help bring the report to life.

Sandie, CEO at Disability Peterborough, said she had just the story for me. So my collaboration with the organisation’s Walks on Wednesdays (WOW) group, and Nene Park Trust, began.

The History of our collaboration

I met (virtually) with Sandie, Chris, who leads the WOW walking group, and Susan, a Project Development Officer at Nene Park Trust, working on accessibility. They told me how the group came about, how it had grown, and most importantly, why it is still going and so popular ten years later.

We co-wrote the Walks on Wednesday’s success story to accompany the report. Understandably, there was a lot of interest in their story. One organisation even contacted us to ask if they could use it as a model for their staff training on building inclusive partnerships.

I kept in touch with Sandie, Chris, and Susan over the following months, informing them of my interest in their story. I promised I would one day visit and join them for a walk at Nene Park.

On the first Wednesday in May, I travelled to Ferry Meadows at Nene Park, Peterborough. I met with Chris and some of her fellow walkers. Sandie from Disability Peterborough also joined us for a ‘Walk on Wednesday’ (WOW).

I arrived a little early, so I wandered around the visitor centre, including an impressive farm shop stocking lots of local produce. I noticed a lot of information available for visitors, including various information boards including a large map outside, also written in braille and tactile elements. The facilities were also accessible and inclusive, with accessible toilets and mobility scooters for free hire.

People gradually arrived and chatted, catching up on news until it was time to set off.

Being active together

The weather was grey and drizzly, but that had not deterred people from coming. When it was time, we all set off for a walk around the two beautiful, tranquil lakes in the park. I noted that the paths were flat and well maintained and that there were plenty of benches and potential rest points along the way, where you could sit and enjoy the sights, sounds and smells of the park.

The group split into two so those who wanted could do a longer walk. Those of us doing the shorter walk kept at a pace that suited everyone.

Walking in such a beautiful, tranquil setting was enjoyable and chatting with people. Chris also pointed out some quirky features, which I loved, including an owl sculpture carved into the trunk of a tree. How talented some people are and how wonderful to use their talents for others to enjoy.

When we arrived back at the visitors’ centre for a well-earned hot drink, I felt re-energised.

I had physically, mentally, and socially exercised. It was as if Mother Nature had given me a dose of fresh air and cleared the cobwebs away.

A while later, those taking the longer route joined us at the outdoor café, as did Susan from the Trust. It was a lovely surprise to see her. We chatted about what we had been working on since we’d last caught up and how we wanted to do more to champion accessibility and inclusion in parks.

It was great to see people in the group chat and enjoy each other’s company. As people gradually left to continue their day, I noticed how content and upbeat people seemed.

A photo of a lush green space with a lake in the middle. In the middle ground you can see the green trees that line the lake.

The company is just as important as the activity

Following my morning visit to Ferry Meadows, I joined Sandie, Chris, and their colleagues at the Disability Peterborough office. Once again, I was warmly welcomed. They showed me around their office space, including the theatre used for yoga and other group exercise classes.

We talked about how the pandemic had changed people’s working spaces and patterns. I was honoured that some of Sandie’s colleagues had prepared a delicious “home-cooked” lunch for me. Complete with a beautiful cake that Mary Berry would be proud of! I was so touched that all the Disability Peterborough colleagues joined us for lunch – once again, everyone was included.

I was so pleased that I’d finally met Sandie, Chris, Susan (in real life!), and some WOW group members and Disability Peterborough colleagues.

It was wonderful to enjoy a walk in the park with such friendly, welcoming company. If I lived closer to Peterborough, I’d be inclined to join the walks more often.

Nature, peace and tranquillity, walking or wheeling as far as you want and as fast or slow as you need. All with great company and rounded off with a cup of tea. What’s not to like?

Next Steps

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