Each week a group of over a hundred seniors meet near the Waterfront Museum for a walk, cuppa and chat; an activity many say helps them stay mentally and physically fit.

Swansea Marina Social Walk is a weekly walk organised by the Swansea Council and the charity, Action for Elders. 

“I was suffering from depression, so it’s a very good thing to come here and I recommend it to everyone,” says 70-year-old, Mr Howard Williams. “I’ve been able to make new friends, and, uh, it’s benefited me both health-wise, and especially mentally, because other friends have suffered with different things, and we help each other.”

It was started after the Covid-19 pandemic as a means to help people come together after a long period of isolation.

Action for Elders Operations Manager Myles Lewis told Swan TV that while the walk originally started with six members, their group has now grown to 120 members. 

“I think it’s it’s such a simple idea, doing a walk but I see the smiles on people’s faces a lot of whom are widows who have lost partners, have no friends or isolated in the house,” he says. “So, I think it makes them look forward to a day of the week where they can come out, exercise, meet friends again, and have a tea or a coffee.”

However, Mr Lewis believes that the walk alone is not the best part of the activity for elders.

“I think the walk is obviously great and when you’re around the marina you can go along the beach but actually, I find that the actual tea and coffee after is the most important aspect,” Myles adds. “Because again, that’s how we can tackle loneliness is people making friendships within the group where they can exchange numbers and contact each other outside the group.”

Mr, Williams, who has been coming to these walks for over a year and a half says that the friends he made in the group, not only helped him combat depression but also saved him money.

“One garage quoted me a hundred and twenty pounds to take care of my car and one of my friends sent me to another garage and they then did the full job for 35,” he says. “I also advise others on gardening, painting and everything and we all help each other if we’ve got a problem.”

Each member can avail a free cup of coffee or tea after their walk.

Mr Lewis, who co-ordinates the walks, says though his job is challenging, he is driven towards it because he can see the change it brings to the members’ health.

“Split the walk into three lengths with the short walk being our shortest walk at only a mile long,” he says. “And we find people are not capable of doing that short walk, but when they do it consistently from week to week, they’re expanding their, lungs and getting more active and pushing themselves and some of them move on to the medium and even the long walk.”

Mr Williams, now a diligent member of the group, says that he saw a positive change in his physical health after coming to the walks.

“The amount of obesity in Swansea is absolutely ridiculous. I was putting on weight myself and it was making me ill,” he says. “There’s a shortage of beds in the NHS because of obesity so I recommend everybody get exercise.”

“After all, you would not want to carry 100 pounds of weight and not be paid for it. Yet, you’re doing it with your own body,” he adds.

Though it may seem intimidating to join a large group, Mr Lewis assures prospective new members that they can join anytime they want.

“We’re all friendly and we’re all welcoming,” says Mr Lewis, “ If you feel a bit anxious, because I understand coming to a group of about a hundred people you might feel a bit anxious — make yourself known to one of us and we’ll make you feel welcome and introduce you to some people.”