Finding new places to explore: Meet new walker Mick Scholey

We caught up with Mick to find out how joining a walking group, organised by Family Fit CIC and funded by a grant from CityConnect, has helped him make new friends.

Mick, a retired engineer born and bred in Horbury, has always been active, but since 2020, COVID restrictions have affected many of his regular hobbies.   

We caught up with Mick to find out how joining a walking group, organised by Family Fit CIC and funded by a grant from CityConnect, has helped him make new friends, and led to him finding new places in an area he has lived in for more than 60 years.  

“I retired in May 2020, a couple of months after the pandemic began. I had been used to exercising as part of my daily routine as I would often go to the gym on my way home from work.  

“The change in lifestyle was quite sudden, and as many things were not accessible due to the restrictions, I started keeping my eye out for new things to try. 

“I have always enjoyed walking, but I had never really thought of it as a group activity. When the advert [for the walking group] popped up on social media I saw that it was only 5 minutes from my house.” 

Family Fit CIC was set up in 2019 and since then has been supporting people to improve their health, wellbeing and confidence through physical activity.  

Paula Appleton, co-founder of Family Fit, leads weekly walking groups in and around Horbury and Ossett, with a community grant from the West Yorkshire Combined Authority’s CityConnect programme. 

Paula explains why these opportunities are so important: 

“We were so happy to be awarded the community grant, as I knew that many people in my local area were lacking in confidence to get out post-lockdown, and to start being active again. Walking is a fantastic way to engage in light exercise, discover new places in our local areas, and to meet new people.  

“The walking meets have certainly achieved that, and I'm delighted to report that many new friendships and support networks have been created along the way. Some of our walkers are now even meeting each other socially outside of the meets, as well as attending other activities that we provide.  

“I can honestly say that the positive impact on people's mental health has been just as important as the benefits to their physical health too.” 

Mick decided to go along to one of the first group’s walks and hasn’t looked back. 

“Paula from Family Fit WY welcomed a small group of us at Ossett Park on a rather rainy Monday in October and I’ve been going ever since. 

“Initially the walks were a way to enjoy some exercise, however I do feel it became more than just this. 

“The walks provided motivation to get out of the house at a time when we had been restricted for many months. The fresh air, exercise and change in routine gave me a boost, and I began to feel more excited about getting back into all the other activities that I love. I even set some new ambitions, including joining one of the local parkruns. 

“I also love the fact that I am still finding new places to explore in and around Ossett and Horbury. I’ve lived here for so long I didn’t think there was anywhere I didn’t know! 

“I particularly enjoy the social element of the group. There are some really inspiring people that attend, and it is interesting to chat with them during the walks, finding out their reasons for enjoying the walks and what led them to join. I have made some friends with whom I hope to keep walking and talking in the future.  

“I have to say that Paula’s enthusiasm for the group definitely rubs off, and the fish and chip Christmas social walk was a really enjoyable way to end the year.”