The Pathways for Carers project offers carers of people with a disability or mental illness an opportunity to walk together and learn about events, services and supports available to carers.
The group (pictured) meets at 9.45am on the fourth Wednesday of every month (except April and December), at the Beechworth Bakery, 316 Maroondah Highway, Healesville.
Yarra Ranges Council Disability Advisory Committee member and carer Anthea Forbes started the Healesville group with Council’s Metro Access Officer Amanda May to provide support for carers in many different situations.
“Carers are often isolated in the community, due to there being a lack of support for carers,” Ms Forbes said.
“The program brings them together to make new friends, it provides them with opportunities to network and find out about services that might be helpful to their particular caring situation.
“The walks provide emotional health and wellbeing support to participants in a friendly non-judgmental environment.”
Ms Forbes said the feedback had been very positive from those who attended this year.
“New carers are welcome too. Sometimes people are scared to take the step and meet new people but I like to remind people that everyone’s in the same boat,” Ms Forbes said.
“You don’t need to RVSP, just turn up to the meeting point on the day.
“We generally walk about 4kms each time and walk for about 50 minutes to an hour, on a mix of sealed and gravel paths which are mostly flat.
“Or you can also skip the walk and just meet us at the café if you prefer.”
Ms Forbes said the carers really enjoyed getting outside, being in the fresh air and relaxing, while sharing stories and connecting with one another.
“It’s very social and we always have interesting guests from local organisations,” she said.
“At our last walk we had representatives from Anglicare, EACH Social and Community Health who shared a bit about the work they do with the other walkers.”
The dates for 2019 are 22 May, 26 June, 24 July, 28 August, 25 September, 23 October, 27 November and 18 December.
If raining, the group stays at the café. Carers are encouraged to bring a hat, water and an umbrella.
Pathways for Carers program is supported by Council, Healesville Living and Learning Centre, Beechworth Bakery, EACH Social and Community Health and the State Government. It also strongly supports Council’s work to support wellbeing through encouraging walking.
The group walks along the Yarra River, using the new sealed paths along Wilson and River Streets (pictured below) which have been resurfaced by Council.
The guests on each walk share details about events and activities coming up in the area, followed by free coffee and cake.