So, the middle of August 2019. I am currently sat in my home on the Knoydart peninsula contemplating what has gone, and what is to come. I am here for 5 days, taking a break and resting a grumbling knee. Well, at times it has been screaming, but mostly grumbling.
People, it is people who are the key, and I guess this is one of the key messages of The Listening Walk. It is people who have made and are making this journey the life-changing event that it is becoming. It is life-changing for me on a personal level. New friendships forged, my belief in humanity firmly restored, some stunning scenery on these sceptred isles, and yes, I have lost a little weight and become healthier.
But the kindness of strangers, friends and family is truly life-changing to the people that will be supported through the Samaritans. The walk is raising awareness across the country. The most vulnerable, in their hour of greatest need will have access to another person 24 hours of every day.
We all have mental health, most can deal with it but any of us can at any time have ‘events’ happen to us. And it will be the love and kindness of other people who are the safety net to catch us when we fall. So many people have shared their experiences of lowest ebbs, times when they thought they would never be happy again. But their lives have been changed because somebody somewhere listened.
There is hope all around us. It is in the form of people. I have met hundreds and hundreds of these people. They are all around me…and you. Talk to them, just say hello. You never know when just saying hello is a life-changing event for someone. You have it inside you. Let it free and give it wings.
So, a quick update. I am now well on the way to Selkirk having already visited 21 Branches of The Samaritans. The welcome that I have received has been nothing short of amazing with people coming out to meet and walk with me, organising welcoming committee’s, organising shifts around me, feeding me and even accommodating me. You are all wonderful.
I have completed 562 miles since leaving Doncaster on the 14th April and I am now in a different Country. I have walked to another Country! I have already worn through one pair of shoes and I’m now well into my second pair (thank you H for the shoes donation). I have been interviewed by a number of radio stations which is great because it publicises the walk and in doing so, raises awareness of The Samaritans and what they do.
I am meeting hundreds and hundreds of people along the way. And I have to say reader, please don’t think you are alone and that all around is hatred, sadness and a lack of hope. I am finding the exact opposite. People are fantastic. From the campsites that are giving me pitches, to the eateries providing meals, to the complete strangers that are thrusting donations into my hand.
But as will always be the case, it is the stories shared that are having a real impact on me. Strangers sharing the loss of loved ones, to the general struggle to get through the day. But also dreams and aspirations that we all have. It is indeed the listening walk…and all the better for being so.
Onward, ever onward. Hello Scotland, Country of my home, show me your beauty…and tell me your stories.
Apologies readers, I have been somewhat busy now that the Listening Walk is well and truly underway but I will be updating this page a bit more often. I have covered over 250 miles…which has been better than walking the streets…(sorry). I have visited 14 Branches where the welcome has been absolutely magnificent. Starting in Doncaster and visiting Scunthorpe, Grimsby, Hull, Barnsley, Wakefield, Huddersfield, Halifax, Bradford, Leeds, Harrogate, York, Bridlington and Scarborough.
I am now on my way to Northallerton and will be making my way towards the North East. I want to give a heartfelt thank you to all of the Branches that I have met so far. They have supported me, they have transported my heavy trailer, they have fed me, they have ‘geed’ me up. In short, they have kept me going. All volunteers, all busy people leading their own lives, giving their own time up to support the most vulnerable in this society of ours. Hero’s all of them.
I am on my second pair of shoes, I have received donations not only for the Samaritans but also for my equipment and clothing which is really helpful. Thank you to all of the people that have donated, every penny makes a difference. I have used camp sites and food outlets that have treated me to food and drink and accommodation. Such generous, kind and loving people.
My closing remarks for this latest post; I have seen in this first month that there are so many good people, doing great things, ordinary, humble, kind and supportive people. Changing the world, one small act of kindness after another.