ECHO Whats on…

ECHO is an independent,  Herefordshire-based charity with 230 members and over 150 volunteers. Their main office is in Leominster but projects run in many different community based venues.

In 2020 they proudly celebrated 30 years of making a difference to the lives of disabled people in the county.

Most of the activities are suitable for people with moderate or severe learning difficulties, but they will try to support anyone who wishes to take part in activities, including those with mental health difficulties and physical or sensory impairments.

They have a full schedule of great events and meet ups including coffee mornings, music workshops, House Party! and Echo does Millionaire. Check out the booking form for more information..

Echo Booking form JUNE 2021

To see what else they do or find out more about ECHO go to

My Running Journey – Jade Perks

Where it all started:

Last year I was watching a programme about being overweight and the impact COVID-19 can have on you if you are overweight. At this point I was not exercising and eating whatever I wanted when I wanted. My BMI was obese, so looking at the impact that COVID-19 could have on me and having to young children to look after I thought I needed to do something.

I started a keto diet August 2020; I started this thinking I am not sure this will work because I have dieted before not seen result so did not stick to it.

This time it was a little different as my husband started with me, so it became a little bit of a competition. I found this also helped because I had someone else doing the journey with me. I also had someone to answer to if I cheated.

I started seeing results which really built my motivation an kept me going. I noticed a difference in my energy levels. I have always suffered with migraines which have been severe in the past causing me to go into hospital. I started noticing this was improving to the point I was only getting the odd headaches.

I have always been on Strava and seeing lot of my friends, people I know going out running/cycling/ walking. One day I though hmmm I might go for a run.

My first run was October 20th

I ran for 1.89 miles and it took me 22 minutes, 12.02 minute mile.  At this point I was 1st 10lb down. This is slow for running. I remember the run well, because I felt so out of breath, my legs hurt, and it make me feel sick. I thought to myself I have not even done 2 miles and I am so unfit. I did post it live to my strava for all to see, I was embarrassed but it was for myself to document how far I can go and how much can I improve if I stick at it. I wanted to make my own little journey because this time felt different, my motivation was high, my determination was high. Seeing the results kept me going.

Working from home really helped me because I didn’t have that commute to work so once I put the kids on the bus at 8.15am I had 45mins spare to have my own time and run. Making time and building running into my daily life routine massively helped.

I started running about 3-4 times a week each time running more miles and quicker. On strava it clocks your pace and your personal bests. It gives you little medals, I really liked this as it was something to earn each run. I was then running 5k each morning as I got my time down to around 32 minutes.

There are also segments on certain running routes so you can race other people and join in monthly challenges to earn in your own trophy case. This became a little bit of a competition for me.

I then really wanted to push myself and started running 10K every Sunday. Sunday became the 10k day. New Year I set myself a goal to run in a virtual 10k running competition, this helped me stay focused on what I wanted, something to aim for.

One day I really want to run a half marathon, I have started to push on how far I can go. I have completed 10 miles and then 11.5miles. So close but it was extremally hard.

Some days I wanted to give up, some runs my legs just did not want to carry me. I have had battles with myself in my head because my head wants to do it, but my body is finding it hard. I’ve wanted to see results fast in running speed but not seeing it sometimes made me feel like stopping and saying maybe this isn’t for me but the enjoyment of having my own space away from the house has always outweighed me giving up.

I feel like I have come so far, I never want to start that first run again and feel so unfit. The health benefits with my migraines still at bay and feeling more energised are great.

I even started going to a running club to try it, this is very out my comfort zone. I have never really partaken in a club let alone any sort of exercise club and I was so very nervous because I was worried about being the slowest runner and being left behind.  Turns out I needn’t have been worried I really enjoyed it and was encouraged by all the members – I didn’t feel like I was being judged or like it was a competition.

Pontypool Dementia Group

Pontypool Dementia Group announces that as restrictions ease the group (up to 30 people) can meet face2face outdoors (weather permitting).  During bad weather it is replaced with a Zoom session.  

       When: Every Wednesday at 2pm

      Where: Pontypool Park at the band stand

Please contact Dave Mynott for further information on 07728 482376.  Arrangements can be made for the carer support worker to attend the first session to do the initial introductions.  A referral can be made to Louise Hook by calling 01495 762200.

Age Connects – Dementia services

The Zest for Life group is for people under the age of 65 living with young onset Dementia or cognitive impairment.  They hold groups at the specialist centre Widdershins in Sebastopol, 1-1 home sessions, Zoom groups and a walking group.

Do you know anyone that would benefit from joining the group? 

The exhibition (linked below) showcases how the Zest for Life group managed the lockdown and continued supporting members with 1-1 sessions and online activities.

Follow the link:  Zest for Life – Virtual Exhibition

Merry Moments Service – Having Dementia doesn’t mean you have to stop doing the things you enjoy. Join in with all sort activities that will help you to live well with Dementia and improve wellbeing. Monday 23rd May 10 -11 at the Widdershins Centre. 01495 769264. Find out more here

Mental Health Awareness Week 2021

‘There is something to be wondered at in all of Nature’ – Aristotle

We started our SIL 25k mile challenge not only as a celebration of our 25 years in care but also as a way to encourage staff, friends and service users to feel the benefits of exercise on mental well-being.  Many of us were suffering from stress, anxiety and depression as a result of the pandemic.  And so, as the Mental Health Foundation launched the theme behind this year’s campaign as ‘Connect with Nature’ we could see endless possibilities of how we could reap the benefits.  A double whammy of a mental well-being pursuits!

The weather isn’t improving as much as we’d like but there are still plenty of opportunities for taking your exercise out into the big wide world and get a dose of nature too.  Perhaps a walk, yoga in the garden or simply gardening. Bluebells are bobbing their little heads across the countryside this month and birds are tweeting merrily away; so many beautiful sights to take in as you tot up a few miles.

How does connecting with nature help my mental health?

During long months of the pandemic, millions of us turned to nature. MHF research on the mental health impacts of the pandemic showed going for walks outside was one of our top coping strategies and 45% of us reported being in green spaces had been vital for our mental health. Websites which showed footage from webcams of wildlife saw hits increase by over 2000%. Wider studies also found that during lockdowns, people not only spent more time in nature but were noticing it more.

It was as if we were re-discovering at our most fragile point our fundamental human need to connect with nature.  And it is only since a 1960s study in the US found that patients who were treated in hospitals with a view of nature recovered faster, that science has started to unpack the extraordinary health benefits.

Nature and our mental health

During Mental Health Awareness Week 2021, we will pull together the evidence that demonstrates the powerful benefits of nature for our mental health. We will look at nature’s unique ability to not only bring consolation in times of stress, but also increase our creativity, empathy and a sense of wonder. It turns out that it is not just being in nature but how we open ourselves up and interact with nature that counts. We will show that even small contacts with nature can reduce feelings of social isolation and be effective in protecting our mental health, and preventing distress.

Nature is our great untapped resource for a mentally healthy future.

Despite this, many of us are not accessing or benefitting from nature. Teenagers in particular appear to be less connected with nature and around 13% of UK households have no access to a garden. We want to challenge the disparities in who is and who isn’t able to experience nature. Nature is not a luxury. It is a resource that must be available for everyone to enjoy – as basic as having access to clean water or a safe roof over our heads. Local and national governments need to consider their role in making this a reality for everyone, and we will be talking about how they can do so during the week.

What you can do

We invite you to #ConnectWithNature and share what this means for you.

Gwent Carers Hub

Did you know that whilst the Carers Hub is open for visitors on an appointment only basis, the Wellbeing Team are available Monday – Friday between the hours of 08.30 – 17.00

The team are available to offer Information Advice and Assistance and can support you within your caring role
To contact the team please call 01495 367564 or email

To find all the latest activities,  Carers Hub – What’s on at the carers hub May



SIL 25K Challenge – Fitness For All

Although SIL’s 25k mileage challenge is a way to mark our silver anniversary, it is also to try and encourage all our staff, service users and support workers to think about the health and wellbeing benefits of sport, while raising money for Megan Baker House.

Covering miles may not be easy but we know some of our service users have raised huge amounts for charities by covering the distance in their motorised wheelchairs, getting outside, with the benefits that brings, and raising money whatever the weather!

For a wider look at disability, sport and wellbeing visit:

Herefordshire has a range of activities for disabled people and for different ages. So, if you think wheelchair dancing might be an idea, or you’re more into the physical impact sports of wheelchair rugby there are clubs in the county. The opportunities to join new activities and meet new people while getting fit, are beginning to open up again, but in the meantime there are a number of on-line inclusive classes.

To find out more about local organisations the following two sites have lots of useful information:

The good news is that technology is catching up with wheelchair users and sport. Apple has an app that works with their watch specifically for manual wheelchair users. The app tracks miles and measures calories burned, while doing all the other things we now expect from a fitness app. Fitbit, Garmin and Xiaomi are cheaper options, and while they can monitor the usual “fitbit” stats, movement in a manual wheelchair is measured as “steps taken”, so they are not yet as advanced as Apple.

For more information about fitness apps visit: