A LEADER of a mental health group is encouraging residents to get out walking and chatting to banish lockdown blues.

Mental Health Mates, founded in 2016, is a network of walks across world communities to support better mental health by bringing people out of isolation.

Claire Farley, 35, admin for the Mental Health Mates Malvern group, said: “The Facebook group grew out of a Facebook post where I had to cancel the November walk [because of new lockdown measures] and instead I offered ‘make a date with a mental health mate’ - we can still walk with one other person.

“I’m walking with people and encouraging others to meet. When we’re out of lockdown the plan is for group walks of varying sizes and a chance to catch up over coffee.”

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Lockdown is proving difficult for many, with job losses and people having to work from home if possible, often not seeing family members as only “essential” travel is allowed.

Claire added: “Life will always throw curve balls at us; it’s about how we deal with them.

“That’s why looking after our mental health is so important, it allows us to deal with these things.

“Looking after our mental health helps with confidence, self-esteem, adapting and growing.

“Lockdown has bought up lots of challenges for people, with all the uncertainty.

“It’s much more challenging to step out of fear and find the positive. It’s been amazing to see how people have adapted and how kindness shines in the uncertainty.”

Mayor of Malvern, Cllr Neil Morton, said: “The people of Malvern have really helped during the pandemic and this scheme run by Claire is just another example of people doing good for our community.

“We know mental health is being hit by the Covid-19 and lockdown and for another who is struggling, there’s also the ‘Here 2 Help’ scheme, and people can get the help they need by calling 01905 768053.”

Mental Health Mates started with a single tweet, when journalist Bryony Gordon invited others to join her for a walk around the Serpentine lake in Hyde Park, London.