Moving more with Glossopdale Milestones

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Nicole McKeating-Jones
Added to All on 1 Jul 2020

"I wanted to show them how easy it was to get out into the open countryside from their doorsteps, so Glossop Milestones was born."

Glossop Milestones was born to keep a community active during the Covid-19 pandemic, when their usual support network was forced to temporarily close. Understanding the importance of continued activity during lockdown, Glossopdale Moving Engagement Worker Helen Thornhill discovered a way to keep the isolated communities supported and the younger generation engaged through outdoor activity.

Changes to initial community plans

‘Prior to lockdown, I was working with Whitfield, a local community group,’ Helen explains. ‘I’d begun developing relationships with the local people there by attending their weekly food café (a little like a food bank). Every week, I chatted to new people about their daily lives and what was important to them. Part of this was uncovering what was preventing them from being active, and how we could support them.’

‘One of the key activity barriers was the local playground, which was left with limited equipment due to damage. I’d attended meetings with other project leaders, and we’d secured a tender for funding for a new play area. The contractors were due to begin on 6th April – then Covid-19 put plans firmly on hold.’

Finding new ways to stay active outdoors

When the coronavirus pandemic hit and the community café was forced to close, the group knew it was vital to continue to support those who needed their help. Delivering door-to-door helped the group continue to feed the community, and Helen began online social engagement via Facebook and WhatsApp.

‘It soon became apparent that people were embracing their daily outdoor exercise allowance,’ says Helen. ‘As I’m a runner, I noticed routes on the tops of Glossop were getting increasingly busy, but mainly with experienced walkers and runners. I discovered that, overall, other Glossop residents weren’t familiar with the paths and routes in their area. I wanted to show them how easy it was to get out into the open countryside from their doorsteps, so Glossop Milestones was born.

Glossop Miles stones

Creating Glossop Milestones with community support

Helen began with various ideas, which were discussed as a steering group and posted to a local parents’ Facebook page. ‘Originally, I asked if people would be interested in finding out about new local routes and how we can encourage children to go along too,’ Helen says. ‘I received 35 responses almost immediately to support the idea.’

Shortly after, Helen was contacted by an Ordnance Survey (OS) ambassador, offering to help. ‘She’s a local mum of two and helps with a mum and baby Facebook walking group,’ explains Helen. ‘She provided the group with an OS app, through which we can make free walks available (and receive a discount on paid options). Together, we’ve been plotting routes for Glossop Milestones around the area, all accessible from the town centre.’

In addition to the app, the OS routes have been distributed in paper form to make them more widely accessible. The hard copies include rock locations, viewpoints, and wildlife that may be spotted. Routes range from 2k – 10k over various terrains, with easy buggy-friendly options through to those suited to more established walkers.

The outdoor activity initiative for the community was promising, but Helen knew a little more was needed to keep children engaged. She launched a rock painting competition through social media and the local newspaper. ‘The idea was to encourage people to go out for a walk, collect rocks, take in their surrounding and paint what they see,’ explains Helen. ‘The rocks are then used as milestone markers along the routes.’

Glossop Milestones 3

Keeping connected through activity

‘Many parents are using the hunt for rocks to paint as a good way to encourage their children to get outside for a walk, which is crucial to physical and mental wellbeing in lockdown,’ says Helen. ‘The community group delivering the food bags to the usual food café attendees and doing so on foot too, providing a huge boost to both activity and engagement.’

‘I am hopeful the two projects will combine, and we have plans for them to,’ she continues. ‘The Whitfield community group have agreed to help distribute the Glossop Milestones OS maps to the people receiving food bags, which could prove invaluable. The areas have high numbers of social housing, and the walks take people from their doorsteps into countryside less than half a kilometre from their homes.’

Helen is collecting rocks that have been painted by local children, ready to distribute in place on walking routes. Her team are also forming a strategy to increase awareness of the project to support the current Facebook and Twitter pages.

Glossop Miles Stones 2

More details can be found on the That Counts! Glossop Facebook page

To access the walking routes and children’s activity sheets, contact Helen Thornhill:

Twitter: @GlossopCounts

Facebook: That Counts – Glossop