Hazel tells us about her experience of being a health walk leader.
How long have you been a volunteer health walk leader?
About 5 years.
Why did you decide to become one?
I was a keen walker, probably more so in the last 25 years. I was interested in organising walks for others.
Were you trained?
Yes, I took part in a free training day hosted by City of York Council.
What do you get out of leading walks?
Leading the walks motivates me to be active. It is very satisfying to see new walkers joining the group and making friends. I like to see people making progress with their walking, gaining confidence.
What qualities do you think help to make someone suitable as a volunteer leader?
It is good to be cheerful and enthusiastic. You need to be well-motivated, punctual and reliable. You need to be able to recognise the strengths of and the challenges for the walkers in a group.
How often do you do lead walks?
Once a week - every Tuesday morning for about an hour and a half.
Is this usual for a volunteer?
Some volunteers lead shorter walks. Not all lead a walk weekly, some lead fortnightly or once a month. Others support other walk leaders with bigger groups. You can discuss with the Scheme Coordinator how much of a commitment you can make and agree which walk you are going to lead or support and how often.
What are your tasks?
I plan the walk routes and make sure they are safe and accessible. I make sure a walk register is completed and new walkers complete health questionnaires. There is a little bit of paperwork, but not much.
Do you get to meet with other volunteer walk leaders?
Yes, a number of other walk leaders attend our walk on a Tuesday. It is very popular so it is good to have the support of other leaders. About once every two or three months we get together for a Volunteer Walk Leaders’ meeting with Gillian, the Scheme Coordinator.
What would you say to anyone thinking of becoming a volunteer?
Try it! It is good to see new walkers making progress. It is rewarding to see someone arranging to meet independently and plan walking holidays together.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Walking at a good pace in the fresh air with friends is healthy and invigorating. I always feel better after it.
Communities and Equalities team