Priory Gardens, the right steps to recovery

Winchester City Council has teamed up with Solent MIND to support and encourage people with mental health problems to become more active. Solent MIND is a registered charity providing a wide range of high quality services to support people with mental health issues across the South. One of these services is Priory Gardens in Winchester which offers activities at its Centre in Parchment Street and in the local community.

As part of October’s ‘Time to Get Moving’ week, which aims to bring people together around the country to increase social contact, break down stigma and raise awareness of the benefit of physical activity on mental health, Winchester City Council’s Active Lifestyles Officer, Lydia Lockhart approached Priory Gardens to organise an event to mark this celebration and get the centre involved in the local health walks scheme.

The first walk saw 8 Priory Gardens users take part in an hour-long walk in October 2010. Some of those that attended the initial walk then went on to attend the regular Health Walks which take place weekly around the District and have joined on a permanent basis. Those attending have not only helped promote a more active and healthy lifestyle but more importantly met one of Priory Garden’s aims which is to provide opportunities to enhance social inclusion within the wider community of Winchester.

Due to the success of the first walk, further walks are set to be organised with the most recent taking place in February where 6 participants enjoyed walking through the Water Meadows in beautiful weather.

Michelle Wills, Project Worker at Priory Gardens said, “Physical Activity is very important to aid recovery from mental health problems; our members here at Priory Gardens really enjoy outdoor activities and comment how much of a difference being active can make to their mood, along with feeling included in a group activity to boost confidence."

Cllr Dominic Hiscock, Portfolio Holder at Winchester City Council said, “The Health Walks are a great opportunity for people from the community to become active, meet new friends and see the landscapes that Winchester has to offer. They are all lead by Lydia and her team of volunteer walk leaders, it’s a fantastic free opportunity and with the weather now changing I would urge people to come along and join in!”

The partnership will continue to blossom this spring with plans to work together to organise another walk from Priory Gardens and for Michelle to accompany some of those involved along to one of the Winchester Health Walks that take place on a regular basis.

For further information about the Winchester Health Walks: or contact Lydia Lockhart on 01962 848 725.

For further information about Priory Gardens: or Solent MIND: