The Festival of Winter Walks takes place from 17 December to 8 January and aims to get more people walking and spending time outside.
For many of our supporters, walking is a great way for them to practice self-care, connect with their communities and to start safe conversations around suicide.
During this festival we would like to share the below blog by Sabine, which highlights how walks can bring us together and help to spread hope.

After our 16-year-old son James tragically took his own life in March 2021, I knew that I had to be proactive in my response to the devastating loss of our wonderful James. A positive step was to create James’ Team, a group of like-minded family and friends all determined to make a positive difference in James’ memory. By supporting PAPYRUS, we are raising awareness of suicide prevention and helping to break down the stigma surrounding suicide, at the same time as spreading the message of HOPE and honouring James.

It was an exciting step to organise our first Ipswich HOPEWALK. An idea which started out as ‘let’s have a town walk, in the dark, with glow sticks…’ culminated in a 90+ strong event, walking the streets of Ipswich and raising £1,620.50 for PAPYRUS! It exceeded all our expectations. We had supporters stretching from the Isle of Wight up to Newcastle!

We were extremely fortunate to have the full backing of the Ipswich Borough Council Events Team. Their expert advice provided both guidance and focus to our preparations, from the need to gauge numbers, to being clear on points of safety with it being a town walk and providing First Aid cover. We used social media to promote our HOPEWALK, including Instagram, Facebook and WhatsApp, which helped spread the word far and wide. We invited people to ‘walk together, talk together and remember those we love…’ Our posts asked people to sign up if they’d like to join us, wear something bright, stay hydrated and walk on pavements. We promoted the walk as a free event, with a suggested donation of £5/£10 /£15 via our JustGiving Page or cash donation on the day. We were also lucky to have the continued support of the Cult Café Bar who provided a very friendly and hospitable start and finish to our route.

The HOPEWALK itself was amazing. An incredible 90+ walkers join us! On arrival everyone was invited to sign in and help themselves to teas and coffees provided by the wonderful Cult Café. Before we set off, it was an ideal opportunity to tell everyone en masse about what HOPEWALKs mean and what PAPYRUS is all about.

We set off under blue skies, encountering an all-weather experience of monsoon-style rain, thunder and spectacular lightning on the five mile route in and around Ipswich. It was an amazing night and an absolute privilege to walk with everyone! It was lovely to receive such positive feedback too. Here are just some of the messages:

‘It was amazing, thunder, rain, people… all of it!

‘What a memorable evening, loved it all!’

‘So proud to have been a part of #ipswichhopewalk2022 for @jamesteam18 and @papyrus_uk’

‘Thank you for being there.’

‘It was a night to remember! Thank you for letting us be a part of it!’

Our first Ipswich HOPEWALK was a brilliant way to raise awareness and funds for PAPYRUS, in addition to being a platform for people to express themselves. It was clear to us that being on our HOPEWALK meant a great deal to everyone who came for many different reasons. It was incredible to feel this expression of support and the need for people to give it.

We look forward to our next Ipswich HOPEWALK 2023!

If you would like to join a local walk during the Festival of Walking visit to find walks near you.
If you would like to go on a HOPEWALK of your own contact for more information.
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