Written by Transition volunteer, Julia Lurfova
Photo Credits to University’s Visual Communications Team
Around four months ago, Transition’s Steering group’s members sat down to discuss safe ways in which they could give back to the town’s community during the pandemic. A lot of Transition’s projects are centred around human connection and face-to-face interaction. For obvious reasons, these have been significantly limited during the past year.
A lot of the projects had to be rethought and coming up with new visions which would benefit the wider community and reflect the changing nature of our everyday realities became even more pressing. The pandemic has created novel challenges, while amplifying some of the pre-existing ones. The key challenge identified by the Steering group, which necessitated an urgent response, was isolation.
One way in which human connection can be maintained safely during the pandemic has been through one-on-one outdoor gatherings. Two-person walks seemed to provide a solution to the problem we outlined.
Mobilizing both familiar and new volunteers, we created a walking scheme which connects students to other students, staff, and community members, and enables them to set up walks around St Andrews. After the initial connection is made, the walkers and volunteers are encouraged to set up follow up walks if they wish to do so. They can also express interest in being paired with a new person.
Having created an ambitious project like this, there are a few reflections which we have made. Now, more than ever, there is a considerable demand to meet people. The number of sign-ups for our walking initiative support this – 44 walkers and 48 volunteers have signed up so far. To date, 20 walks went forward, and a lot of them have been followed up by more walks.
A lot of the student experiences revolve around socializing, which has been virtually impossible in the light of the pandemic. While restrictions are there to protect our communities, isolation suffered by especially older community members, students, and staff alike cannot be taken lightly.
If you would like to help us with this project, you can either become either a volunteer who takes people out on walks or signs up to join a walk, please fill in either of the forms, which are just a click away.
Finally, a huge thanks to everyone who volunteered so far! Keep safe and keep walking 😊