The benefits of getting outdoors, being active and meeting others to boost mental wellbeing is being highlighted by the Let’s Talk and Walk service in the Black Country this Mental Health Awareness Week.

The Let’s Talk and Walk service at Black Country Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust is free and is available to anyone aged over 18 to provide a chance to get out, enjoy a walk in peaceful surroundings and connect with others.

The service is available all year round but is particularly relevant this Mental Health Awareness Week (13-19 May), which this year is all about raising awareness of the benefits of moving more to boost mental wellbeing.

The Let’s Walk and Talk sessions take place every week at selected Black Country parks. They offer the chance to enjoy a walk and connect with others, opportunities that may be difficult for some people to access due to mental or physical ill health, social isolation and lack of transport and money, along with other barriers.

The walks make a big difference to the people who take part, boosting their wellbeing through physical activity and socialising with others.

For many who take part, it is something to look forward to each week and may be their only chance to get exercise.

Steve, who is a frequent participant of the walks, said: “I enjoy attending walks and meeting people. It’s a good routine for my wellbeing, both physical and mental health. I would recommend it to anyone. The staff and people are welcoming and friendly.”

The walks are led by vocational specialists who, alongside being a friendly face, are able to signpost walkers to other local services that can provide support for any issues they are facing, such as help for tackling loneliness or routes to access skills, training and employment.

The walks have also grown to launch social networks, with participants on the Wolverhampton walk self-organising café meet-ups.

Each week the vocational specialists can see the impact the meetings have on those who attend, with many making it part of their weekly routine. One participant, a lady aged in her 80s, came along while grieving her late husband. The boost of the walks gave her the mental energy to be able to deal with tasks she had to do at home. She now meets the group in the café after their walk, so the service has been an integral part of building a social life.

Arfan Zaman, a vocational specialist who is one of five staff who leads the walks, said: “The Let’s Walk meetings are a great way for people build routine and consistency into their week. Some people come to every walk during the week, others to one, but everyone who takes part can benefit from the boost it brings to their mental health, physical wellbeing and confidence.”

Let’s Walk sessions take place at the following times and locations:

West Park in Wolverhampton, Mondays, 1.30pm-2.30pm (meet at Connaught Road entrance, Wolverhampton WV1 4SQ)

Dartmouth Park in West Bromwich, Wednesdays 12.30pm-1.30pm (Meet at the memorial off Lloyd Street, B71 4AS.

Walsall Aboretum in Walsall, Thursdays, 1.30pm - 2.30pm (Meet outside the Visitor Centre)

To find out more and get involved with the sessions, email or call 07909213184.