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Walking and Cycling Grants London blog

Jul,2024 Heath Hands
Walking through nature in London

Heath Hands is the conservation and community charity for Hampstead Heath, with staff and volunteers helping conserve our green spaces and wildlife and aiming to connect people with nature.

Over the past few years, and, in particular, since the pandemic, a growing focus of our work has been centered on wellbeing, both physical and mental, and we’ve been increasingly running more activities focusing specifically on promoting wellbeing in nature for our visitors and the local community. A key element of this has been the development of our walking programmes on Hampstead Heath. We have always run nature and family friendly guided walks, but had the opportunity to expand this when we took over responsibility for Camden Council’s two weekly Health Walks on the Heath.

Over time, we took responsibility for coordinating the walks and have worked to embrace our new walk leader volunteers in to our organisation. The additional localised support we’ve provided, along with the membership benefits and social elements with our other volunteers has led to a growing volunteer team. We’ve also sent a staff member to accompany the health walkers from time to time to introduce new aspects of nature and wildlife discovery elements. This increased focus has enabled us to support our volunteers to launch new walks, so we now have three weekly health walks across the Heath – all are completely free to join.

Furthermore, the support of the Walking and Cycing Grant London (WCGL) has enabled us to develop a wider range of walking initiatives in partnership with other groups. For example, we run more family walks with local charities and targeted monthly wellbeing walks in partnership with Mind in Camden for those suffering from poor mental health.

Funding from WCGL has been instrumental in this work and we’re very grateful for the extra resource this has provided, enabling us to focus on developing walking further as a way of engaging with our green spaces and promoting wellbeing.

Heath Hands celebrates 25 years this year, and, to celebrate, we commissioned photographer and filmmaker Matt Maran to make a short film about our work. This is a celebration of the Heath itself and shows how our walking projects fit in with our wider activities on the Heath. Click here to view it and enjoy some beautiful shots of our walkers on the Heath!

And if you’d like to come walking on Hampstead Heath with us, do check out the walking page on our website.