By RYAN McDOUGALL
A health walking programme in Troon is struggling to gain new members and volunteers.
The programme, called Stepping Out, run by Arthritis Care and Paths for All, aims to get people who are chronically ill to become more active.
Programme manager Sharon MacPherson explained that despite starting the walks a few months ago, they are struggling to find support.
She said: “The programme launched in back in June to try and get people who are ill to get more active. We’ve been struggling to get more people and volunteers involved.”
Despite this, Sharon believes they will get there due to the small but dedicated support network they currently have.
She said: “GPs have been really helpful through recommending the walks to people. We also have four regular walkers who have passed the message on to friends. The Prestwick one has 11 regular walkers as it stands. We’ll get there.”
Sharon explained that ‘word of mouth has been the best means of getting people involved’ so far.
Arthritis Care worked alongside Dr Anne Matthews, a Researcher for the British Heart Foundation.
Dr Matthews conducted a study to find out why walking programmes in the UK tend to fail at recruiting both volunteers and walkers.
She explained: “Effective walking programme recruitment seems to require trained, strategic, labour intensive, word-of-mouth communication, often in partnerships, in order to understand needs and develop trust and motivation within disengaged sedentary communities.”
She believes walking programmes in the UK need to have volunteers trained and equipped more efficiently in order to thrive.
She added: “Walking promotion professionals require better training and resources to deliver appropriate recruitment strategies to reach priority groups.”
The walks currently take place every second Tuesday, and take place at 11am outside Troon Town Hall for 15 minutes at a time.
If you are interested in getting involved, call 07563186264P