Ella is the founder of Girls Who Walk Manchester (GWWM), a social and walking group established for women to create long lasting connections in a supportive environment. Now with over 30 groups across the UK, she has helped tackle the poignant issue of loneliness in young people country wide.
We sat down (virtually speaking) with Ella to ask her a few of our burning questions:
What inspired you to start GWWM?
"I started Girls Who Walk Manchester after moving home after university and struggling to meet new people my age, to put it shortly I was really lonely. After seeing other groups across the US and Europe such as ‘City Girls Barcelona’ and ‘City Girls Who Walk DC’, I looked to see if Manchester had anything of the likes, and it didn’t. In fact, there was nothing like these groups anywhere in the UK. So, after putting out a message on a Facebook group to see if anyone wanted to join me on a walk and getting hundreds of replies, Girls Who Walk Manchester was born!"
Were there any particular learning curves or challenges that stood out to you during the early stages of building GWWM?
"The whole process has been one big learning curve, and still continues to be to this day! I never expected GWWM to take off as quickly as it has done in such a short period of time - as great as this is, it has definitely come with challenges. Being a community which is built off volunteers, it’s very hard to find people committed to helping run the walks and events, this has certainly been the biggest challenge as we cannot run without them! Thankfully, I have an amazing group of volunteers that I can rely on and owe so much of our success to, the volunteers' time and effort is pinnacle to the day to day running of our group. However, I am still learning so much about running a voluntary organisation, everyday is a school day!"
What are you most proud of?
"I am really proud of how GWWM has grown and how the group has helped people in the area make friends. We get hundreds of girls attending our walks and events, and it makes me so proud to see friendships formed in the group lasting beyond the Sunday morning they’re made. I know first hand how hard it is to meet new people, especially like minded people, so being the facilitator for helping just one girl feel less lonely makes me really happy. We have created a community with GWWM, and become a blueprint for similar communities to form in other areas of the UK to tackle loneliness within young women…hopefully this is just the start!"
How would you describe GWWM in 3 words?
"The 3 words I’d use to describe GWWM are “you’re not alone”, as GWWM is all about creating a space for girls to realise they aren’t the only ones feeling lonely!"
Stay tuned for more spotlights and feel free to DM us any recommendations of inspiring role models you want to hear more from!