Winchester Walk & Talks: going from strength to strength

What started out as a weekly walk back in November 2020, has turned into five weekly walks and a Dad’s walk. The leader of the Monday Walk & Talk, Samantha Monk, explains more.

Next month will see the six-month anniversary of our Walk & Talks starting in Winchester. The walks have proved incredibly popular, and now Winchester NCT runs five walks and a Dad’s walk.

Samantha and Teddy

Samantha Monk, who leads the Monday walks, tells us how they started.

“I started volunteering with the Winchester NCT in November 2020 when the second national lockdown came into force in England. I had just had my second baby Teddy and was and looking for a way to meet other mums during a very long, cold and potentially lonely maternity leave.

“When our branch coordinator Hélène suggested that I could start a Walk & Talk, the idea seemed like a win-win.

“I was delighted to be able to do something positive as the most miserable stretch of the pandemic set in. Having a baby for the first time is a shock to the system during normal times, and I couldn’t imagine what it must be like for new mothers to have to make it through those first challenging months without family and friends to lean on.

Starting the Monday walks

“I started running a Walk & Talk that met every Monday at 3pm outside Winchester Cathedral – rain or shine, in sleet and snow, over Christmas, Easter and bank holidays. Sometimes when the weather was really dire it would just be me and Teddy waiting outside the cathedral for a while and then we’d go home again – but I was happy that we were there anyway, just in case someone really needed to talk.

Caroline Nokes MP has even dropped in to check out one of NCT Winchester's Romsey walks

“Now in sunnier days our Monday Walk & Talks are regularly attended by between 10 and 20 mums and dads every week, and I am joined by two or three other volunteers along with our amazing breastfeeding counsellors Jennie, Jane and Ruth.

“The level of isolation experienced by new parents during the lockdown is really alarming. I have had a number of mums say to me that our Walk & Talk is the first time they have left the house on their own with their 6-12 week old baby.

“In one case, it was the first time a mum had ventured out of her house in four months. I am delighted that we have been able to provide a safe place for new parents to meet.

Six-month anniversary

“I’m proud to say that May 9th is the six month anniversary of our Monday Winchester Walk and Talk, and we have had over 70 mums and dads attend so far. On top of that, the Winchester NCT is now running four other walks in other locations, along with our very popular Dad’s Walk.

“It has been a brilliant way to meet new people and I have enjoyed this experience tremendously. Thank you to the NCT for providing the structure, advocacy and legal framework to make this possible during a very complicated and challenging time. It has done a world of good for the new parents of Winchester.”

More info

Would you have the time to lead a Walk & Talk and help new parents in your area? It’s easy to set up, and we’ll guide you through it. Find out how to join NCT as a Walk & Talk volunteer.

If you’d like to go on a Walk & Talk, find out if there’s one in your area on your local branch NCT Facebook page or enter your postcode on the search field here.

Find out more about our NCT Walk & Talks, and why they’re so vital for new parents.