In December 2019 the members of Nordic Walking Watford voted Hertfordshire Mind Network as their charity of the year however little did any of us know what was to lie ahead… Read on to find out how the the successful partnership raised vital funds and awareness of mental health – despite the challenges faced due to Covid-19.
Charity Partners 2020
When Nordic Walking Watford chose Hertfordshire Mind Network at the end of 2019 Tracy (Lead Walk Instructor) explained how the link between physical and mental health made the choice of Hertfordshire Mind Network a good fit:
This year our members voted for Hertfordshire Mind Network. So much of what we provide at Nordic Walking Watford is not just about physical health – it is about Mental Health too. Exercising outdoors in green space, with people who become your friends, has a very powerful and positive effect on our mental wellbeing.
Along with the regular car boot cafes – where members donate to Hertfordshire Mind Network in exchange for a well deserved piece of cake at the end of a walk – Tracy got straight into planning fundraising events for the upcoming year that her members could take part in including the Chiltern Challenge and St Albans half marathon.
The virtual world becomes reality
Unfortunately this all came to a sudden halt in March 2020 when the Covid-19 pandemic hit and we went into national lockdown. At Hertfordshire Mind Network we quickly adapted to provide support to our clients through this initial lockdown via phone, Skype, Zoom and Demio. Nordic Walking Watford suspended their walking sessions however embraced a new world of virtual world of chats, mindfulness and exercise and in May, to coincide with Mental Health Awareness Week, held of number of virtual fundraising events including a car boot café, quiz and took part in the 2.62 challenge.
As the country slowly opened up again in the summer of 2020 Tracy restarted the walking sessions whilst here at Hertfordshire Mind Network we started seeing our clients face to face again allowing us to provide essential mental health support in person. At the end of October Nordic Walking Watford braved the wind and rain and did the Chess Valley Challenge raising £425 in the process. Tracy reached out at this point to share her concerns about the mental well-being of some of her members due to the impact of the pandemic and we shared information about our services including our Crisis Helpline which had been set up in March to support people across the county.
As winter 2020 drew near we held a competition asking people to design a Christmas card that we could send out to our supporters, the winning design was by Judy Stansell, a member of Nordic Walking Watford. We got 200 cards professionally printed and for Christmas 2021 sold them via our website – we now hope to make this an annual event!
Given the impact of the pandemic on fundraising and charities such as Hertfordshire Mind Network, Tracy kindly said that Nordic Walking Watford would like to support us for another year and we were so grateful for their continued support. January 2021 saw the country go into another national lockdown and once again fundraising took a hit and we were back into a world of virtual quizzes, cook-alongs and online games. During this time Tracy reached out and asked if we would be able to provide any additional Mental Health Awareness training for her walk leaders so they could provide the appropriate mental health support to any of the members who needed help. The training went ahead and Tracy and her walk leaders found it very useful:
I just wanted to say a big thank you to your trainer for the presentation which has really helped my walk leaders to know their limits and boundaries in respect of assisting our walkers.
In October 2021 the members of Nordic Walking Watford took on the Chess Valley Challenge – once again the rain poured down but the walkers kept going despite this and raised £400.
As the second year of the charity partnership drew to a close Tracy continued to collect donations both cash and via a JustGiving page at the car boot cafés and passed these across at the end of the year.
The total amount raised across the partnership came to an amazing £2037.97 and at the Nordic Walking Christmas social in December, Tracy was able to share this great fundraising achievement with the group along with the thanks of everyone from Hertfordshire Mind Network.
Of the partnership Tracy said:
Our members voted for Herts Mind Network to be our nominated charity for both 2020 and 2021. Little did we know at the start of 2020 how much our mental health would be challenged over the next couple of years as Covid entered our lives. It has been an honour to support Hertfordshire Mind and the wonderful work they do during such a difficult time. And when we needed some help, they were right there to support us – thank you.
In May 2022 we launched a new Nordic Walking Group in partnership with Nordic Walking Watford. The 6 week Nordic walking course, beginning in June, will include a session on the benefits of physical activity on mental health, instruction in Nordic walking, a facilitated peer support group and in the final week the opportunity for participants to reflect back on their progress. We are really excited to continue working with Nordic Walking Watford – for further information about the group please visit the Nordic Walking Group page.
If your organisation would be interested in finding out more about becoming our charity partner then please get in touch with us today! Either give us a call on 0203 727 3600 or e-mail [email protected]