Women's mental health. Photo of a female hiker resting on a wall.

Women’s mental health walking group

A women’s mental health walking group, Gather & Grow, integrates mental health first aid into its activities and shows us how the role of charities in fostering community well-being cannot be overstated.

The Power of Community Initiatives

Gather & Grow, founded by Danielle Ward and Siobhán Crowther, started as a simple idea: walking together and discussing mindset. However, it quickly evolved into a powerful community initiative with a far-reaching impact for women’s mental health.

Their story, covered by BBC Hereford & Worcester, highlights how grassroots movements can grow into significant forces for good.

This evolution underscores a critical point for communications professionals: the importance of storytelling and engagement in amplifying a charity’s mission.

Change|Able behavioural communications insights

From a behavioural science perspective, initiatives like Gather & Grow benefit from principles of social proof and community reinforcement.

According to research by Cialdini (2007), people are more likely to engage in behaviours that they see others participating in, especially within their social groups.

By highlighting the stories of individuals like Siobhán, who turned to mindfulness during a challenging period, Gather & Grow creates relatable narratives that encourage participation and support.

Training and ripple effects

One of the standout aspects of Gather & Grow is their integration of mental health first aid training, conducted by Ian Hines, a former prisoner and drug addict turned wellness consultant. This training equips members to spot signs of mental health struggles in others, creating a “ripple effect” in the community, as described by Danielle.

Government statistics support the value of such training. According to the Mental Health Foundation, one in four people in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year. By training 26 individuals in mental health first aid, Gather & Grow significantly extends its reach and impact, potentially affecting hundreds of lives.

Women's mental health. Photo of woman with baby in baby carrier hiking through the woods.
Women’s mental health walking group – Photo by Josh Willink

Communication Strategies for Charities

Effective communication is crucial in expanding the reach and impact of charitable initiatives. For Gather & Grow, several strategies have been particularly effective:


Sharing personal stories helps humanise the charity and make its mission relatable. Research by Green and Brock (2000) shows that narratives are more engaging and memorable than facts alone, making storytelling a powerful tool for charities.

Social Media Engagement

Gather & Grow actively uses Facebook to connect with their community, showcasing the importance of social media in modern communication strategies. Platforms like Facebook not only help in spreading the word but also in creating a sense of community among followers.

Collaboration and Training

Partnering with experts like Ian Hines for mental health training highlights the value of collaboration. It not only enhances the charity’s credibility but also broadens its expertise and resources.

Leveraging behavioural science for better outcomes in women’s mental health

To further improve outcomes, charities can incorporate more behavioural science principles into their communication strategies. For example:

Commitment and Consistency

Encouraging small commitments, such as attending a single walking session, can lead to larger commitments over time. This principle, outlined by Cialdini (2007), suggests that once people commit to an action, they are more likely to continue engaging in similar behaviours.


Providing valuable resources or training, like the mental health first aid course, can foster a sense of reciprocity among community members, making them more likely to support and promote the charity’s activities.

Creating change in women’s mental health

Gather & Grow is a testament to the power of community initiatives and effective communication in improving outcomes for women’s mental health.

By leveraging behavioural science and strategic storytelling, charities can significantly enhance their impact.