Durham: the Move Mates journey so far

From York to Leeds, and now the historic city of Durham.

The Move Mates projects are spreading their impact across the North.

By Mercy Okusun

Durham is a city known for its rich heritage, amazing architecture, and scenic environment, and it now has a well established Move Mates project. Under the supervision of Hannah Lindsey, Move Mates Durham kicked off sixteen months ago. Hannah is passionate about dedicating her time and energy to ensure the success of the project.

One of the features of Move Mates is our approach to making pairings. Hannah considers information from referrals (from both partner organisations as well as self referrals, and referrals from family and friends). She then looks at the shared hobbies between them and the volunteers and compatibility. Practical things such as, availability and location are also considered. There is also a commitment to fostering meaningful connections across different generations. 

Challenges and Opportunities

One of the challenges that the project has encountered is volunteer recruitment. Durham’s rural nature presents a few hurdles in finding and retaining volunteers. Even so, we are approaching 500 walks in Durham by early January 2024.

Hannah is optimistic about expanding the project in Durham. She hopes to do this through continuing to make thoughtful pairings to engage more members of the community and securing more funding. 

Partnerships and Collaborations

Move Mates Durham has fostered partnerships and collaborations within the community. A few of these partnerships involve; Healthcare professionals, The Durham NHS Foundation Trust, Durham Community Foundation and the various Universities and Colleges in Durham.

Through these partnerships, Move Mates is a vital part of the local community. Measuring the success of Move Mates goes beyond numbers and data. It’s the well-being of the people we walk with that truly matters. 

“I am delighted to be part of a team who are driving positive change and helping improve the lives of others. I am passionate about breaking down barriers to exercise and have observed from both my own experiences and engaging with community groups how being active benefits both physical and mental health.

Hannah, Project Manager

We attract volunteers from different walks of life including; students, professionals and the retired community.  We love this mix of people working with us. When volunteers walk alongside someone, it becomes a mutually beneficial experience. If you are looking to gain experience, increase confidence or offer your skills please apply to volunteer through the Move Mates website.

Move Mates Durham is building its volunteer community and looking to expand the number of volunteers we can pair people with, who are waiting for a short walk and a chat. If you can spare an hour or two each week to walk with someone, we would love to hear from you. We have people waiting to be paired in the Chester le Street and Stanley areas, so are especially keen to hear from volunteers in these areas.

Move Mates is proud of its growth and we continue to build valuable partnerships in Durham to enable us to support as many people as we can to become active outdoors and enjoy our urban and green spaces.

Group of adults and children with bin bags and litter pickers in woodland
Durham volunteers and families on a Move Mates litter pick
One of our Durham student volunteers with her walking buddy

Life is better. I think about walking a lot and I like planning walks to do with John. I like walking when I can and not using my car all the time like I used to.

John, Durham Participant

To find out more about our Durham project, head to our Durham page.


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