A group of over-50s from across Redbridge have beaten lockdown loneliness by forming a socially-distanced walking club.

Walkie Talkies Redbridge is the creation of Sharon Goldstone, who in January put out a call for walking companions Nextdoor, a community app.

Within days, more than 30 people got in touch and the group has since grown to include more than 70 members.

Sharon, an education, mental health and wellbeing practitioner, said: “Walking and talking has been a saving grace for us.

"Stomping along in the sun or drizzle building friendships and encouraging each other seems to melt or rinse away the frustrations that build up through the week, allowing us to go home feeling serene.

“For those living alone, it is company, while for those overwhelmed by big noisy families or overcrowded house shares, it’s a time of blessed respite."

Back in January, members of the group would meet up in pairs for a walk and a chat.

But as restrictions have been relaxed, they have been able to meet up in larger groups for walks.

The group has recently moved from being solely a walking group to become an all-round social group, offering a wide variety of activities including mindfulness walks, chocolate tasting, art therapy, restaurant visits, and theatre trips.

Barkingside resident Lisa Batashall, who is a member of the group, said: “It has actually changed my life. I’ve met new friends from all walks of life, all with different reasons for joining and it’s given me a purpose to carry on.

“Sharon has been my saviour. Such a special lady and she means so much to all of us.

“There is always someone to walk and talk with in all weather and we’ve discovered beautiful places to enjoy during these strange times.

“It has definitely helped us get through the pandemic with smiles on our faces and faith in others.”

The group are not currently taking new members.