Martin started attending one of our Walking Groups at the end of June this year. He had lost his partner just before Christmas and was really struggling with anxiety and confidence. He wasn’t sure right until the last minute that evening whether he was going to attend, but he managed to get out and into the car and come along to the walk.
That first evening Martin walked with one of our Walk Leaders behind the main group and they talked about his partner and how he was feeling. The group walked for about an hour and at the end he thanked everyone and left. We were pleased that Martin came back the next week and over the next few weeks he was able to mix more with the group and chatted with other people. Every week we could see his confidence improving and he started doing his own walks in between the group walks.
Martin started attending other Red Balloons group walks. He now walks 2-3 miles a day and attends up to 4 walks a week with us.
Martin says ‘I don’t know where I’d be now without Red Balloons. I have a wonderful close supportive family but it’s often easier to talk to people you don’t know. That first week it took just about all my strength to go along to the group walk, but the welcome I received and the support and kindness that was there has helped me through the last few months. I feel fitter, I’ve lost weight and I know that, however I feel, I’ve always got somewhere to go through the week and someone to talk to’
I'm Sarah and I joined the Red Balloons Wellbeing group in December 2020 after reading about Red Balloons on Facebook. I started 1-1 walks with Claire in January 2021 after watching a live talk she did one morning on the Red Balloons page. I plucked up the courage and messaged the page and arranged my first 1 to 1 walk and talk with Claire. I've also had walk and talks with Leigh and Louise too. I find the support from having a chat really helpful and valuable and it also gives me the opportunity to get out of the house and have a walk too.
Since March, I have been involved weekly in the Red Balloons zoom sessions which is where I have got to know Emma. We first met when we arranged to go for a walk in Norton a month ago. We got on well and since then have become good friends and more recently been involved on group walks. Emma is supportive, friendly and easy to talk to. I'm glad we've become friends.
I really enjoy the weekly zoom sessions with Lou and Emma and we all have a good laugh. Definitely something to look forward to!!
I'm happy I'm starting volunteering with Red Balloons and looking forward to being able to help and support others with their mental health. I enjoy helping people in any way I can.
Finally, I am very pleased I have become involved with Red Balloons . Everyone is lovely, supportive and friendly at Red Balloons esp on the Wellbeing group and is reassuring to know there is support available when needed
My name is Emma. I first came across Red Balloons in March 2021 when I needed support for my mental health but couldn’t get support fast enough from other services due to waiting lists. I joined the wellbeing page where I was able to talk with other likeminded people and also had the option of messaging the page privately when things got too much. When Red Balloons began offering a zoom meeting on a Thursday evening I decided to join in which is where I met new people including Louise and Sarah, forming a great friendship.
Over approximately three weeks me and Sarah got to know each other over the zoom meetings, leading to Louise suggesting meeting in person. We arranged to meet for a walk at Norton duck pond, where we walked and got to know each other in person. Me and Sarah have formed a strong friendship through the Red Balloons community, talk on a daily basis and enjoy each others company.
Through the support we have received and the confidence we have gained through meeting each other, we now participate in group walks throughout the area and are now progressing on to become volunteers for the service as walk leaders, in the hope of helping other people with mental health difficulties and to build friendships like the one we have formed.
6 months ago I nervously went along to try out Red Balloons run and rant session never really having run consistently before. I knew I wanted to up my fitness to help my with both physical and mental health.
I met Claire and she instantly put me at ease. We walked for a bit and chatted and then started "running". Then I think I started wheezing 😆
Claire encouraged me to get to "the next bin" or "the next lamppost" before we'd take a walk break til my breathing became more normal. Then we'd run again.
I went back the next week and the next and did it again. It also encouraged me to go out on my own too doing a couple of couch to 5k runs. Claire encouraged me all the way.
From those humble beginnings I carried on and on. My goal was simply to get to a point where I could attempt a park run.
Now I've got a handful under my belt, increasing PB's and I'm running 2 5k's a week as well as other training.
Today I entered my first 10k run to challenge myself further.
I feel the difference in my fitness and I've dropped 20+ lbs since I started.
I'm proud of myself and so thankful to Claire for getting me started.
Thank you Red Balloons. 💕😍😃🎈🎈
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Can I just say that it took me a few weeks to pluck the courage up to contact you and I am so glad I did. I had been looking for something that could meet my needs and this group has certainly done that. From my first message I felt I was being heard and after meeting Leigh for the first time I can say I am really glad I took that first step. She was so easy to talk too and very encouraging and after she left I was still feeling on a high. I would like to say a huge thankyou for your help and understanding x'