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Be inspired every day with Living North
Charity Focus: Walk and Talk Trust
July 2021
Reading time 8 minutes

Durham-based charity, Walk and Talk Trust, have recently set off on their biggest fundraising campaign, taking part in 50 guided walks across the North East to total 1,000km

We caught up with Geoff Simpson, Chief Executive of the Trust, to find out more about the charity and why getting out and about is not only good for our physical health, but our mental health too.

Walk and Talk Trust is a Durham-based charity that aims to get everyone into the fresh air for some gentle exercise, whilst opening up to their friends and family. Founder Peter Bell had the core vision in mind when setting up the charity, to improve public health whilst getting out and about in the glorious countryside. By promoting physical health and emotional wellbeing, the charity is hoping to improve the lives of people around the North East, particularly schoolchildren and socially-disadvantaged adults.

Recent studies have shown that in the North East, two out of every five schoolchildren are either overweight or obese. Walk and Talk Trust are trying to tackle this problem through education, targeted support and new walking trails that are being organised around the region. ‘We want to get more families out and about and engaging in outdoor activities,’ says Chief Executive Geoff Simpson. ‘We encourage everyone to participate so it’s a whole range of generations benefiting from the fresh air.’ Due to the pandemic, the region has also seen an increasing rate of mental health concerns and the charity is hoping to tackle some of those concerns through their ethos of walking and talking.

Walk and Talk Trust organise a number of guided walks across the region, and provide free walking boots to those who need them most. When we spoke to Geoff, he was in the middle of an expedition with some of the supporters who are taking part in the charity’s main fundraising event, The Big Smile. With 50 guided walks across Northumberland, Durham, Tyne and Wear, Cumbria and Yorkshire, Walk and Talk Trust are hoping to raise enough money to stock even more walking boots for disadvantaged locals to use. ‘We’ve got experienced guides, Keiron Young and Richard Ellis, to lead the way this summer, so there is no need for maps or chance of getting lost,’ says Geoff.

The charity emphasise that the walks are not a race, but an opportunity to focus on the motivation behind talking part. ‘The walks may be challenging, but they’re a realistic distance for a fit adult,’ explains Geoff. Participating in the guided walks allows people to get a healthy start to their summer, reaping not only the physical benefits, but also the emotional benefits.’We’ve got no registration fee for those who want to sign up, and we are only asking participants to raise £99 each,’ says Geoff. A small group basis means everyone can take the opportunity to meet up with some old friends – or even make some new ones. ‘It’s the ideal situation to try a more ambitious walk that you’d not normally be confident tackling on your own,’ says Geoff, and with the expertise of the walking tour guides, you can be sure to get your steps in with the professionals backing you all the way.

The Big Smile project is supported by a number of North East companies including Greggs, Newcastle Building Society and Durham County Council, however they rely upon donations and fundraising events to support the amazing work they are doing. Whilst the charity are building upon the foundations they have made over the last 12 months, Walk and Talk hope to create a new schools initiative for 2022 and beyond, as well as build charity-partner relationships, and create exclusive tailored events. ‘The more money raised, the more pairs of walking boots can be purchased,’ explains Geoff, ‘so the greater number of beneficiaries. We intend to bring a lot of big smiles to a lot of little faces.’

To get involved in The Big Smile campaign or any of the guided walks Walk and Talk Trust organise, visit or sponsor a team for just £20 which goes towards paying for a new pair of walking boots for a child in our region.

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