Walk & Talk 4 Men is a simple concept that gives men the opportunity to talk in a relaxed comfortable environment whilst taking in the beauty of the local countryside. The Nature Reserve at Little Paxton, in Cambridgeshire has become its adopted home, with most walks taking place there.
The St Neots group of Walk & Talk 4 Men was started by 1% Pledge Member, Justin Leigh, back in January 2021 with a vision of a single monthly walk around a local Nature reserve in St. Neots, Cambridgeshire. Justin founded the group after his own challenges with mental health in 2017, which led him to leave his corporate management career and establish his coaching & consulting business, Focus4growth. After discovering the 1% Pledge initiative, he decided that his contribution to 1% pledge would be providing support for men’s mental health in his local community.
Justin explained: “The group has been brought together to give men the opportunity to meet other men to walk in nature and talk about whatever is on their mind and listen to the experiences of other members of the group. The aim is to support men’s mental health and wellbeing. It’s not just for men that have mental health issues. Whilst some of our walkers have had underlying issues, a number also use it to give themselves time to think, relax and recharge, leaving their phones and 9 – 5 lives on hold for a couple of hours. There is no agenda, we talk about anything and everything. We all meet up fifteen minutes prior to the walk starting, buddy up in pairs and then set off never knowing where the conversation is going to start or end. The group really has gathered a momentum of its own and the engagement and support from all our walkers is amazing to see. I’m very proud of the community we’ve created. The feedback from many of our men is that the group provides much needed help and support that they’re unable to access anywhere else.Men are regularly referred to our group from local Health Care providers and services. We’ve become a vital component of local support services for men in the Cambridgeshire area, something we didn’t realise was possible.”
Steve Whitney attended the first walk and was inspired to help. Since then, Justin and Steve have increased the monthly walks to fortnightly. During winter all walks take place on a Sunday and during the spring and summer months they alternate between a Sunday morning and a midweek evening when the light allows. They’ve also encouraged key members of the group to become walk ambassadors and are running weekly walks for men in their local community. Often walks will attract as many as 35 men and to date over 160 different men in Cambridgeshire have attended. The popularity of the group continues to grow, as does the number of men offering help and support to Justin & Steve to lead the walks.
The group is available to any man looking for a bit of male company and conversation, whether you are feeling a little low or on top form, go along and join in. You will be made to feel very welcome.