How Move Mates help tackle loneliness in York

We spoke to some of our beneficiaries with lived experience of loneliness

‘It’s sometimes the only person I talk to all week’ – Valerie

102 people are currently paired with a walking buddy through our Move Mates project. 40% of those people selected ‘to feel less lonely’ as one of the reasons they wanted our support..


The 14th-18th June was Loneliness Awareness Week, organised by the Marmalade Trust. They talk about the long term impact of loneliness on someone’s health and found that it has been linked to early deaths and an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, depression, cognitive decline and poor sleep.

Loneliness Awareness Week

Here at Move the Masses we know that loneliness impacts our community and the pandemic has only worsened this. Even more so for those who are older and without family close by. Our Move Mates project helps to tackle loneliness in a simple way and we chatted to a few of our beneficiaries who had been experiencing loneliness to ask how they felt Move Mates has helped them.


Valerie, who was referred to Move Mates in January this year, told us that walking with her Move Mate brightens up her week!


 When we asked her if this helps with the feelings of loneliness she experiences she said ‘Definitely, she’s sometimes the only person I talk to all week’.


It’s immensely important to reach out for help”

– Move Mate beneficiary Nick

Sadly, Valerie’s husband had passed away just a couple of months before her referral and so getting used to doing things alone and reaching out for support have been a focus for them on their walks. 


Valerie’s Move Mate submits a walk log after every walk they have together and updates us on her progress. Most recently Valerie has been getting out to more social events again and becoming confident eating out alone – we love hearing that our beneficiaries are working towards their goals!


We also spoke to Nick, who has been walking with his Move Mate now for around three months. Nick told us that he has felt lonely a lot in the past but that getting out for a walk regularly with his buddy has helped him.

‘After a while it has a good effect on you and you feel better.’


When we chatted about reaching out for help when you feel lonely he said ‘Even if you don’t want to admit it, still get in touch with someone, it’s immensely important to reach out for help’.


Wise words from Nick.


Getting comfortable talking about loneliness is important and is the best way of encouraging people to reach out for support. There are lots of great groups and socialising opportunities in York for various interests, so if you find yourself feeling very lonely remember that there is help out there.


Another beneficiary of ours spoke to us about her feelings of loneliness and told us that she does sometimes still feel lonely but walking with her Move Mate helps her feel less isolated.


She said she would encourage people who are experiencing loneliness to reach out to Move the Masses or other local organisations. She now tries to arrange a couple of meet-ups with friends each week, including her walk with her Move Mate.


Seeing the impact that our volunteers have on our beneficiaries who experience loneliness reminds us how important the Move Mates project is. If you’re inspired to get involved and want to volunteer as a Move Mate, head over to our volunteering roles page here and apply.


Help us encourage regular movement and tackle loneliness and isolation in York, one walk at a time.

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