Good Causes

National Lottery-funded walking group in Bradford helps Asian women

There was a time when Zafina Zeb’s idea of a walk was a trip to the shops near her home in Bradford. Nowadays, the 48-year-old spends most weekends hiking in the Yorkshire Dales accompanied by a group of Anglo-Asian women who share her adventurous spirit.

Zafina said, “My life has changed, I’m telling you. Before I started walking I was quite overweight and often depressed. Now, I can’t believe myself. I’m doing the things I couldn’t do in my youth and I feel so inspired.”

The improvements have been physical as well as mental. Zafina has diabetes, but since joining the National Lottery-supported Moto Walking Wayfarers group about 7 years ago, she has lost a substantial amount of weight and adopted healthy eating habits.

Moto Walking Wayfarers was set up by Mohammed ‘Sham’ Shamim, a former semi-professional cricketer who developed a taste for hiking in the Yorkshire Dales and The Lake District after his sporting career came to an end. Earlier this year the 56-year-old used funding made possible by National Lottery players, to establish the Walking Back to Happiness project. It includes a women-only walking group led by Zafina.

She said, “Some Asian women prefer not to mix with men, so we follow the men’s group in our own cars, see where they park, then go on our own route.”

A study published in October 2017 highlighted the low numbers of Asian people using the UK’s wild spaces. Only 25.7 percent from the Asian ethnic group had visited the natural environment compared to 44.2 percent from the White ethnic group.

Zafina, who has completed the Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge – Pen-y-ghent, Whernside and Ingleborough – is determined to get more women from her community out into nature. Her group is limited by access to transport at the moment, but she hopes to hire a minibus to take larger groups on adventures in The Yorkshire Dales, The Lake District and further afield.

She said, “Many of the ladies [in the Asian community] don’t go out so much. They just need that little push.”

18th August 2022

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