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York Striding Out project gets official launch

The work of patients and staff in creating a 1500-metre historic walk around the grounds of a 200-year-old York building, will be recognised this week with an official launch. 

Ribbons will be placed on a memorial tree along the new path by patients and staff in memory of a special person or special time, to mark the opening of the new £30,000 ‘Redtrack Blaze’ path. 

The Striding Out project at The Retreat was set up last year to promote healthy lifestyles for staff and patients by using The Retreat’s 40-acre grounds. 

The Retreat is a specialist mental health provider, working with the NHS to provide care for people with complex and difficult needs. 

The existing paths and grounds at The Retreat were not accessible to everyone and many patients were not able to take full advantage of the beauty and therapeutic benefits of the grounds. 

So a Striding Out group was set up to look at the various possibilities for a new path around the site. Various types of path were considered and funding was sought for the project. 

Patient groups were involved in the development of the new path and both staff and patients tested the proposed route before it was finalised. 

Striding Out chairman and The Retreat’s physiotherapy technical instructor Lynn Genner explained:  “We know that working with patients outside the buildings helps to increase their physical and mental well being. So we wanted to create something which encouraged staff and patients to be more active. At the same time we knew the walk would help staff engage more with patients outdoors.

“The grounds are home to a variety of wild animals, birds, plants and wild fauna and a diversity of exotic trees amongst our more common native English varieties. So the walk offers both staff and patients a chance to experience season changes and observe all our wonderful wildlife. 

The Retreat’s chief executive Jenny McAleese said: “This is a great example of how, as a not-for-profit organisation, we are able to reinvest in projects to the benefit of the whole of The Retreat community. 

“Inside The Retreat the environment is welcoming, open, light, spacious and calming. The new walk has opened up this special environment into our wonderful grounds, enabling recovery and independence.

“We are very grateful to the work of the Striding Out project in creating the vision and to all those involved in achieving it. I’m sure many patients and staff will enjoy this walk for years to come.”