Winston Churchill once said: ”A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty”.

Our vision at the Genesis Trust is that there should be a thriving and supportive community in the Bath area where everyone has hope and a future. Everything we do points to that goal. And of course, the pandemic has thrown up many challenges but, as Winston said, they can also reveal opportunities.

And that is what the team at the Gateway Centre have seen – an opportunity to do something different and potentially even better. So, because of the restrictions and maintaining sensible health and safety practices, they started meeting with clients outside for a “Walk and Talk”. To date, the staff at Lifeline have already done dozens of walks with clients. They are proving to be invaluable for helping clients open up, and for our ongoing support which is invariably long term and based on having a trusting relationship.

Sean Sutton, Lifeline Deputy Manager, said, “Walking is about movement. And the physical movement helps people consider change in their lives.”

Sean, who walks with male clients, has found that clients are more inclined to talk and be more open as they walk.

“It has been incredible to see the impact of these sessions on clients who have otherwise struggled to open up. One of the clients I have supported in this way has struggled with a gambling addiction for many years. Thanks to our support and the support of complimentary agencies, he is now clean. Our walk and talk sessions have allowed him the space and opportunity to reflect on what he wants from the future and have allowed me to successfully refer him to a place on our Life Recovery Course for him to continue making change.”

Sue Fourie, Life Skills Manager, who walks with female clients, agrees. She has found that while walking you are in a neutral space which changes the conversation in such a positive way because the clients are less reserved. She said, “In their space they feel valued and feel worthy because we are coming to them.”

On one occasion, Sue stumbled across a den on a walk with a client that some children had built:

“We talked about den building and camping and campfires and toasting marshmallows, all the things we take for granted growing up in a family. The stuff you just do without giving it a thought, the things you learn and experience as you grow up, your good childhood memories. It became very clear that ‘K’ had never camped, never built a den, never run around the woods with her friends playing games or using her imagination to play a game outside or never sat around the fire and toasted marshmallows. She had never been on a walk in the countryside. So many experiences that she is now having are a first for her at the age of 29.”

As “K” sat there she said, “I never want to go back to [where I live], I just want to stay here for ever”.  When Sue asked her about this “K” said that fear comes the moment she walks out of her flat. The only place she feels safe is in her bed and at the Gateway Centre, but on the walk she could escape for a little while.

Genesis Trust, through Walk and Talk, has provided a safe space for clients to talk.  And as Sean said, “I absolutely believe that everyone has a hope in them for their future.  Walk and Talk is about giving them that space to discover and release that hope.”

Sean on a walk with horses in the background.