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Newark charity Shawmind launches Walk A Mile In My Shoes campaign as part of World Suicide Prevention Day and World Mental Health Day

A month-long campaign aims to get people walking and talking.

Starting last Thursday, which was World Suicide Prevention Day, people are being encouraged to take gentle exercise, raise funds, and increase awareness about suicide, mental health and wellbeing.

The campaign, Walk A Mile In My Shoes, is being run by Newark-based charity Shawmind, which wants to get people thinking about and discussing the issues by walking and talking for a month, until World Mental Health Day on October 9.

Shawmind is encouraging people to talk about mental health as they walk. (42102213)
Shawmind is encouraging people to talk about mental health as they walk. (42102213)

Supporters will walk alone, with members of their household or with a friend, while following the latest government advice on social distancing.

They might chart their miles throughout the month or simply build themselves up to a couple of miles a day by the end of the month. The campaign is open to all abilities.

The chief executive at Shawmind, Peter Wingrove, said: “As well as providing an opportunity for people to get out and enjoy some fresh air we hope participants will use Walk A Mile In My Shoes to address the stigma surrounding mental ill health and talk openly about their wellbeing needs.

“Funds raised through this campaign will go directly to training primary and secondary school teachers in basic mental health support, which is important because they are the front line of mental health in our classrooms ­— 75% of diagnosable mental health conditions present before a child’s 18th birthday, so it’s crucial that teachers are well prepared to deal with mental health and can recognise the signs of children in distress.”

At the end of their first mile, walkers are encouraged to upload a photo or video to their social media channels and tell everyone about Walk A Mile In My Shoes, before challenging four friends to do the same.

Walkers are invited to tag @Shawmind in the posts and use the hashtag #WalkAMileInMyShoes. Shawmind will share as many posts as possible during the campaign and will release a montage video featuring as many posts as possible on October 9.

Fundraisers are welcome to set up their own fundraising page or they can call for donations to be made directly through Shawmind’s Just Giving or Go Fund Me pages or through Facebook.

One walker, Donna, is walking in memory of her father, Graham, who she lost to suicide in 2008.

Donna attended one of the charity’s suicide prevention sessions and has found it brought her some peace as she has been able to think more about what her father might have been thinking and feeling in the final weeks and days of his life.

Donna knows that she could not have done anything to change the outcome of her father’s choices, but now feels better equipped to be able to offer help to someone else if she spots the signs. Being empowered to help someone when they need it the most has helped Donna process more of what she has been through and fills her with hope for the future.

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