Walking initiative aiming to empower women launches in Redbridge

Fairlop Waters walk

Women from Walk It Out took part in a group outing - led by Emma Bell - around Fairlop Waters on Monday night (April 26). - Credit: Emma Bell

A new women's walking project has launched in Redbridge. 

The brainchild of Chadwell Heath resident April Mehmet, Walk It Out aims to empower women through walking together. 

This theme has been on April's mind since last year, triggered by concern at how domestic violence surged during the first Covid-19 lockdown.

She started mentoring women online, but wanted to do more. 

Earlier this month April had the "light bulb moment" to launch Walk It Out.

She explained: "Being a woman can sometimes be challenging, so I wanted to do something which inspires women to be the best they can and to feel good about themselves. 

Chadwell Heath woman launches Redbridge walking group

Chadwell Heath resident April Mehmet was inundated with interest after she came up with the idea of a walking group for women in Redbridge. - Credit: April Mehmet

"Walking and talking comes together naturally and has physical and mental health benefits."

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Within hours of first advertising, more than 200 women had expressed an interest, with the first outings taking place across the borough's parks last week.

Keen to build on this momentum, April is to meet with Redbridge Council to discuss the initiative, and has been enlisting volunteer mentors to lead particular walks. 

One such mentor is Emma Bell, who led her first Fairlop Waters walk on Monday (April 26).

Emma went along to the first session after seeing the initiative online, and was buoyed by what she saw. 

She said: "I'm excited to see the project grow and empower more women to go outside and enjoy their local areas and have a positive experience."

April believes it is significant that her project seeks to encourage empowerment through walking, given the discussions around female safety that followed the death of Sarah Everard. 

She wants women to feel safe in every setting: "I think my project came at the right time and is very much needed in Redbridge."

This view is shared by those who have signed up.

Miriam Ross said: "I've gone on a couple of these walks. I was nervous but the two walk leaders were so supportive, especially April. It's a great project that us women need."

Anna Di Santo added: "Some of us have been bullied or belittled, or felt that they didn’t have the courage to come out alone, especially after Sarah Everard's death.

"Walk It Out is about pushing the boundaries of our personal fears, whatever these may be."

Visit Walk It Out on Facebook for more information.