Lenox’s story

When sight loss and bereavement transformed Lenox’s life beyond recognition—a local walking group helped him recover. Walking with others in nature brought him back to himself— reconnecting him with his body, lifting his mood and inviting him into mutually supportive connection with others. In this story, Lenox reflects on how this group reminded him of the unique skills and knowledge, which are still his to give.

I was born and raised in Jamaica and I’ve been living in the UK since 2009.  

Before I lost my sight, I was proud to work in the NHS, I was a nursing assistant and part-time ambulance driver, taking patients from A to B. Losing my sight led me to resign from this role and my life changed into something unrecognisable. Adapting to life with a visual impairment took its toll on me. It’s quite challenging with sight loss. It reduces a lot of things and affects your independence. The things you would normally be able to cope with daily pose a great challenge. 

Then my mother passed away and I kind of shut myself out. Looking back on that time, I would say I was in a depressive state and feeling quite anxious about coming out.  

Support workers would come and assist with shopping and basic errands but otherwise I remained mostly isolated. Friends I hoped would be there for me, let me down. My mental health suffered.  Staying inside and moving very little, I struggled with aches and pains.

Stepping out

I first learned about the Ladywood walking group in the Share Shack. I was encouraged to go on a walk for my mental health and I took up the challenge. I didn’t know what to expect, but I hoped the walking group would get me out into nature, get me healthier and clear my head.  

The first walk took place on a rainy day.  Guided by walk leader, Rahema, I met with the small group and walked from the Share Shack on Vincent Street to the nearby canal. I wasn’t familiar with the journey and the lay of the land wasn’t that good. Rahema guided me through loops and hoops, telling me where to stoop where branches overhung. I didn’t have any accidents or incidents, so Rahema was a good guide.  

The next week the group agreed it would be safer if we walked to Edgbaston Reservoir instead. This local nature reserve in the heart of the city felt more spacious and less polluted than the canals. Walking near the water with birds flying around, it’s quite peaceful, it’s the kind of nature that brings you back into the good old days. 

It’s only been five weeks since I first joined the walking group. Those first walks felt like stepping out on the waters. As the weeks go by, it keeps getting better and better.  

It's more than walking. It represents a whole lot

This weekly walk has come to mean a whole lot to me.  I don’t think there’s anything I could think of that could replace it. 

Prior to the walking group, I used to have a lot of aches and pains in my back, my legs and my shoulder because I wasn’t doing much exercise.  I’ve found that walking each week has boosted my circulation, reduced inflammation and increased my energy levels.  

Although I have always had knowledge of different kind of herbs and spices you can add to your diet to help yourself, when I was depressed this knowledge felt locked away. When I got more active, I felt more motivated to manage my weight and be healthy. As I rediscovered my passion for healthy eating, I shared what I could with the group.  

The more I got out and about the more confident I felt. From time to time, you bump into people or you meet people you’ve met in the Share Shack. Now that I am in the habit of walking, I’m able to come out sometimes even when someone is not there to support. I go where I want and do a bit of walking around the block to the Share Shack and a few other places that I’m familiar with. So it does boost my confidence somehow too. It makes me feel like I can get out on my own.  

Coming out of my shell

Coming out and starting walking and start talking, I can see where it has helped me to come out of my shell and start to interact with others and that does help. 

Walking and talking is like therapy. I’ve learned that I’m not the only one that is going through tough things and I’ve shared my ways of dealing with different challenges. Meeting with others to walk, we don’t feel shut out or isolated in any way. So, if something upsets us or there’s anything going on, we equally can share our experience and share advice. It lifts the weight off your shoulders and makes you feel like you have a sort of family. You realise that by trying to help another person, you also help yourself.  

Being there for others in the group, I’ve remembered my love of counselling. It was one of my favourite parts of my job as a nursing assistant. I still think I can do some counselling and help others, in spite of my sight loss. I haven’t written myself off. 

Over these few weeks I’ve learned, no matter how dark the situation is, there’s always a silver lining there. It has been heartening to realise something as small and simple as a walking group can make massive changes. 

Lenox with Jayne who also attends the Ladywood walk

If Lenox's story has inspired you...
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Run walk leader

Rahema leads the Ladywood walking group. If you have any questions or would like a chat before joining a walk, email at [email protected] to arrange an intro call

Join the walk

The Ladywood walking group meets on Tuesdays at 09:00 outside the Share Shack (196 St Vincent St , Birmingham B16 8RP)

Bryony Lawless
Author: Bryony Lawless