Via Wings ‘Walk of Hope’ raises awareness of mental health issues

The Via Wings walkers get ready to set off from Dromore.
The Via Wings walkers get ready to set off from Dromore.

A team of 20 staff and volunteers from Dromore-based charity Via Wings recently completed a ‘Walk of Hope’ to raise awareness of mental health issues.

The team set off from Dromore on Thursday, August 10, walking more than 80 miles to Swords, Dublin over the course of four days.

Keeping the blisters at bay: Via Wings founder Gail Redmond and fundraising officer Chelsey Whan give their feet a bit of first aid.

Keeping the blisters at bay: Via Wings founder Gail Redmond and fundraising officer Chelsey Whan give their feet a bit of first aid.

“The walk was such a memorable experience. It went really well and I think I can speak for all of the team when I say the walk was definitely tough,” said Tori Sergent, Children and Young People’s Project Coordinator at Via Wings.

“There were moments of highs and lows. It was particularly difficult on the last day. Even though we were on the final leg and it was three miles shorter, the miles felt longer than the previous days. We all noticed how much it helped being surrounded by one another and how that kept spirits high.”

The ladies stayed in church halls on the way down to Dublin and received donations of food, snacks and other items from local businesses such as Blend and Batch, SuperValu Dromore, MACE Dromore, Piggots, the Carrickdale Hotel and the Spar stores on Dromore Road and in Loughbrickland.

“The Walk of Hope was to ‘walk in the shoes’ of those who have mental health issues,” Tori continued. “It was not about individuals walking 84 miles, it was to symbolise a team of women coming alongside one another when times got hard. It was to show that in unity things can be changed.

Staff at SuperValu wish the walkers well for their 84-mile journey.

Staff at SuperValu wish the walkers well for their 84-mile journey.

“It was a life changing experience for all involved; to see how people with mental health difficulties can feel every single day.”

The Via Wings team are hoping to raise £5,000 towards the cost of a therapeutic suite in their new building, which will be used to provide alternative treatments for people living with a variety of mental health issues. So far they have collected almost £3,000, but the money is still coming in.

Anyone who would like to make a donation to the charity can do so online at www.justgiving.com/campaigns/viawings/walkofhope

The walkers called in with suicide and self harm prevention charity PIPS.

The walkers called in with suicide and self harm prevention charity PIPS.

The Via Wings walkers called in to Blend and Batch, Banbridge.

The Via Wings walkers called in to Blend and Batch, Banbridge.

The finish line: Tori Sergent, Tracey Graham, Gail Redmond and Chelsey Whan are delighted to make it to Swords.

The finish line: Tori Sergent, Tracey Graham, Gail Redmond and Chelsey Whan are delighted to make it to Swords.