The South West will welcome the first ever ‘Great Dog Walk Get Together’ event later this month, on 23 June in Bristol, marking the official launch of the initiative.
Elaine Brown, local Bristol resident and dog owner, developed the idea to encourage people to benefit from more social interaction through walking their canine companions.
Pet food manufacturer Forthglade is also supporting the project.
The event organisers have tried to make it as easy as possible for everyone by allowing them to create and promote a walk on the campaign website. All walks will be listed on the site and shared via social media.
Walks can involve small groups meeting locally for a leisurely stroll or longer walks through parks or surrounding countryside – everyone can set their own distance and pace. The initiative even encourages those who like dogs but don’t own one to take part.
Brown said: “Dogs provide an easy starting point for any conversation as you immediately have something in common with the other person holding the leash. Regular exercise and social interaction is key to staying fit and well – both mentally and physically, and the great thing about dog walking is it’s totally free.
“Loneliness isn’t just associated with those later in life. It effects so many, from a university student to someone who’s just retired. We’re hoping that the positive support that we’re getting from local councils as well as the community building campaign ‘The Great Get Together’, in memory of the late MP Jo Cox, will enable the project to gain real momentum and truly make a difference, with lots of walks taking place every month up and down the country.”
Gerard Lovell, Forthglade’s joint MD, added: “We’re really pleased to be working with The Great Dog Walk Get Together – it’s such a great idea. Walking the dog is such a good way to meet people, develop friendships through regular walks and simply get out in the fresh air. We wish the events huge success.”