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How This Women's Social Walking Group in Dundee is Empowering Women and Girls for Better Health and Wellbeing


Girls Who Walk Dundee is a fantastic new initiative run by Natalie Koccisova who aims to promote social inclusion for women and girls in the city.


I spoke with Natalie as I found what she and the organisers were doing were nothing but inspiring, and to have something like this in Dundee is something truly special.


Hello Natalie, what can you tell me about Girls Who Walk? How did it all come about and what are the main objectives of what you do?


Girls Who Walk Dundee is a social and walking group for women of all ages, with fortnightly walks and regular socials.


I started this group up after I relocated back to Dundee after a few years away. I really struggled to meet people and make friends, and I found myself feeling lonely which really impacted my mental health.


As I was no longer at university, I couldn’t join clubs and societies like I would have previously, and I didn’t feel like there were many other options in the city that would have allowed me to meet people my age.



After coming across Girls Who Walk Manchester on TikTok, I decided to set the group up in Dundee in the hopes of bringing girls who felt the same way together. Making new friends once you get to adulthood can be tough, so we my main reason for setting the group up was to make it easier and more accessible for women to develop new friendships.  


The main objectives of this group are to tackle loneliness and social isolation among women within our community, but also to encourage women to get out and about, step out of their comfort zone, and try new things! Overall, we just want to provide a safe space for women where they can meet new people in a pressure-free setting.


It looks like it is a very sociable organisation which is fantastic, what type of events do you host?


Outside of our usual walks, we host lots of different events and we hope to continue trying new things in the future too! So far, we have done things such as jewellery making, pottery painting, fitness classes like boxing and yoga, a board games afternoon, lunches, quiz nights, and much more!



We have also recently started up a monthly Craft Club where each month we come together to try a fun new craft, which has been a lovely way to meet everyone. When it comes to events, we always try to work with local businesses, venues and workshop providers to encourage people to support local. 


How many members have Girls Who Walk got? What are the demographics? Are there women from all walks of life that take part?


We don’t have an exact number of members as all women are welcome to come along to any walk or event, but since the start of this year alone, we have had over 280 women attend our walks.


Since setting up in August 2023, we have amassed over 8,000 followers across our social media platforms and currently have over 500 members in our group chat!


We are open to anyone who identifies as a woman over the age of 18, as well as members of the LGBTQ+ community, and we welcome women from all different backgrounds and walks of life! Whether they’re local, new to the city, mums, students, everyone is welcome!


What goes into the planning of choosing a location where to walk from? Do you get suggestions as well from members? 


We try to keep our walks central to make them as accessible as possible, and we like to choose start points that are easily accessed by public transport.



We have a few routes that we alternate between such as Riverside and Balgay Park, but we hope to branch out a little further afield in the future. Once the weather improves, we’d also like to try out some hikes! We are always open to suggestions and feedback, and we try to incorporate everyone’s ideas as much as we can.


How do Girls Who Walk organise events? What is the process and how long does it take to organise? 


It really depends on the event! But in general, it’s a case of either working with a local business/workshop provider who can put on the workshop for us, or we plan it ourselves.


If it’s an event that we are planning ourselves, we normally brainstorm, look for a venue and figure out the logistics, before sourcing the materials and anything else we might need.


After that we just promote the event across our social media platforms. There is usually a little more to it than that but that’s just a quick summary! It can take anyway from a couple of days to a week to finalise all the details. 


Are there any challenges in organising walks and other events? Have you had any challenges in the past that the group have overcome? 


There definitely are challenges to organising both walks and events, but luckily, we haven’t had too many issues. I think for us, the hardest thing has been getting people to come along to our walks! It can be very nerve wracking for a lot of people to come to something like this on their own when they don’t know anyone else going, so it can take a lot of encouragement to get people to attend. 


How has being part of the group helped members? Has it allowed those part of it gain confidence and make new friends? 


We have received lots of lovely feedback from our attendees’, many of whom have been able to make new friends through our group which is ultimately our goal! Lots of women have reported feeling less lonely, and feeling like they now have a sense of belonging. I have also met lots of people through this group myself, who I probably wouldn’t have met otherwise! The group has changed my life, and I hope it has done the same for others too. 


How do you see the group contributing to the community or promoting fitness?


I see our group contributing to the community by opening conversations about loneliness and tackling this head on by providing women with the opportunities to socialise in a friendly, welcoming environment.



We also contribute by promoting an active lifestyle through our regular walks, encouraging women to get out and about and get walking. Walking in a group is a really nice way to stay fit, as you can often forget you are even exercising!


Apart from walks, we also take part in local exercise classes such as boxing and yoga. Most of our walks and classes are beginner friendly so they are perfect for anyone who is looking to start being a little more active, plus there’s the added bonus of getting to meet likeminded women.


What advice would you give to someone who may be interested in joining the group? 


My advice would be to come along and see what it’s all about!


It can be very daunting to come along to something for the first time, especially if you are coming on your own, but the atmosphere at our walks and events is always very welcoming and everyone is super lovely.


It’s important to remember that everyone is there for the same reason, and you might leave having made one or two new friends! 


What plans do you have for the future? How do you envision the future of Girls Who Walk and where would you like to see it in the next five years?


We have lots of exciting plans even just for the next few months, with many new and exciting events that we hope everybody will love! Hopefully over the next few years, our walks and events will grow, and we’ll be able to reach more women within the city.




In the next five years we’d love to be established and well known in the community as a welcoming group for women that they can join if they feel lonely, or even if they just want to go for a wander or meet someone new!


 

Thank you so much to Natalie for speaking with me. It was an absolute privilege to learn more about the work she and many other women are doing in our local community.


Follow Girls Who Walk Dundee on their social media channels through their Linktree here to find out more about the work they do.

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