“For pilgrims walking…every footfall is doubled,” writes Robert MacFarlane, “landing at once on the actual road and also on the path of faith.” For those who strive for a more compassionate future, walking arm in arm – or feet by feet – has always been one of the most powerful actions taken towards turning our faith in a better future into a reality.
As part of our Simple Acts, we encourage you to Walk Together with people from your community and with new friends, in collaboration with The Great Get Together. From iconic marches for peace led by the likes of Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr, to our own March for Peace during Refugee Week Malta as well as the many grassroots organisations using walking as a tool for change, walking has been used to show solidarity with refugees by taking a walk in their shoes, or used as an act of unity with others.
There is no lack of incredible walks and initiatives to take part in this year – from short walks to days-long hikes, we’ve included something here for everyone to get involved.
The Great Walk Together (Jo Cox Foundation)
Our amazing friends at the Jo Cox Foundation have been running The Great Walk Together for the past three years alongside Refugee Week as part of the The Great Get Together, an annual event which brings together people from different backgrounds around a common cause in their area – showing, in Jo Cox’s words, ‘we have more in common than that which divides us.’
Anyone can organise or attend a Great Walk Together – whether you’re a veteran walk leader or have never hosted a walk before! We’re here to provide all the support you need to run a fantastic walk. They are encouraging organisers to host their walks on the weekend of the 23rd – 25th of June, but you can run your walk at any point in Refugee Week (20th – 26th of June) if you want.
Find their 2023 Refugee Week pack here, with inspiration, walk models, resources and more.
Refugee Tales (Walk With Us)
Since 2015, Refugee Tales walkers have made a large-scale walk every summer in solidarity with refugees, asylum seekers and people who have been held in immigration detention. Working in collaboration with migrants and those who have experienced the UK asylum system, and taking Chaucer’s great poem of journeying as a model, established writers and people with lived experience of detention have shared tales in evening events.
In 2023, Refugee Tales will be walking from Three Bridges to Worthing, on Saturday 8th – Wednesday 12th July. During this journey, they will walk, talk, and connect, as they listen to Refugee Tales readings and live music performances, sharing these tales and music with the local communities they walk through. They will celebrate our worldwide community and they will continue to take steps towards a collective destination: a future without immigration detention. Walk With Us is open to people who have experienced detention, GDWG visitors, Refugee Tales walkers and anyone else who would like to join. Book here. They also have other upcoming walk dates here.
Walk with Refugees (British Red Cross)
Walk with Refugees is a sponsored, family friendly 10k walk in central London, raising money to support British Red Cross’ work helping refugees in the UK and around the world. The route will cross the River Thames and pass by many of central London’s most iconic sights. Along the route you’ll hear the incredible stories of strength and resilience of displaced people, showing you the life-changing impact your fundraising could have for someone who’s fled their home.
After the event there’ll be a location for quiet reflection, where if you wish you can write a note or message of solidarity for display on the Wall of Waves – symbolising the oceans many have had to cross in search of safety.
Find out more and register your interest here.
Other groups working towards a more inclusive walking culture to support all year round include:
Athene Club is a group focused on bringing women from all walks of life out into nature, founded by Liv Jank & Zaineb Abelque. Through monthly hikes, they aim to start conversations around the importance of outdoor spaces for all women, regardless of background or experience.
Flock Together is a birdwatching collective for people of colour. They host monthly birdwatching walks for our growing community. These walks are a forum to share experiences, find and offer support, and develop a stronger connection to the natural world. Flock Together walks take place in remote forests and local city parks. They believe that nature is a universal resource and that for too long black, brown and POC have felt unwelcome and marginalised in spaces that should be for everyone. Together they hope to reclaim green spaces and rebuild our relationship with nature – one walk at a time.
GoodGym arose out of a frustration with normal gyms being a waste of energy and human potential. After a year or so of thinking, testing and developing ideas the project was submitted to Social Innovation Camp in December 2008. The project was rapidly developed by a wonderful team of people and won first prize. Following this, GoodGym grew a steering group and put together a pilot project to prove the concept and its potential impact in Tower Hamlets. Something we’ve been working on a lot is loneliness and isolation amongst older people: over 1 million people aged 65 and over admit to always or often feeling lonely, and 17% of those living alone see family and friends less than once a week.
Muslim Hikers is an initiative founded by Haroon Mota to diversify the outdoors and encourage more Muslim walkers and hikers to get out into nature, though it is open to people of all backgrounds. They try to identify barriers facing Muslims accessing the outdoors and Mr Mota hopes to inspire more walkers to “feel empowered to explore wild spaces” alone. Find their upcoming walks here.
Refugee Tales Walking and sharing tales until there is an end to indefinite detention in the UK. Find out about their walk of 2023 here.
Slow Ways is an initiative to create a national network of walking routes connecting all of Great Britain’s towns and cities as well as thousands of villages. Using existing paths, ways, trails and roads, people can use Slow Ways routes to walk or wheel between neighbouring settlements, and combine them to create longer distance trips. It’s designed to make it easier for people to imagine, plan and go on walking journeys. There are currently over 8,000 Slow Ways stretching for over 120,000km. This network of routes was created by 700 volunteers during the Spring 2020 lockdown, creating a unique Slow Ways map in the process.
Wild In The City uses the skills of our ancestors to nurture a deeper a relationship with the natural world and a sense of belonging to communities past and present. Founded in 2013, they support well-being through our relationship with nature in London and beyond. They work from natural settings offering experiences in hiking, woodland living skills, natural history and ecotherapy. Led by their Nature Guides (trained in walk leadership and outdoor first aid), the organisation holds a regular hike on the 1st Sunday of the month and lots of other hiking adventures throughout the year. Click here to book.
There’s also; The Visionaries, The Hillwalking Hijabi, Black Girls Hike, and WeGoOutsideToo. Feel free to reach out if you think you should be added to this list.
Remember to share your walk on socials with us using #SimpleActs #WalkTogether #MoreinCommon and #RefugeeWeek! Walk Together is one of 10 Simple Acts for 2023, which you can discover here.