A men’s mental health walking group has become so popular a service will now launch for women too.
Pawpalz was formed in Ellon earlier this year by local man Toby McKillop whose own mental health struggles were helped by buying a dog and going for long strolls in the countryside.
It aims to help men talk about their feelings while reaping the benefits of exercise and getting fresh air.
Now, the lunchtime walks have proven so popular that a female version has been formed.
They had their first outing on Wednesday night, which Toby hailed as a success.
He said: “Both walkers and pooches enjoyed the experience of the walk.
“I’m so grateful to our facilitators for making this expansion possible, and we are looking forward to helping many more people.
“I’ve taken them out again to give them prep than and go over the group rules, basics like confidentiality and anonymity.
“We will be running the groups with six folk tops, so five spaces on each walk for any girl looking for a bit of support or just a bit of company.
“Both times we’ve been out with them it’s been amazing, they are getting to see exactly how easy it is to open up in this setting with the dogs along.
“You don’t need a dog to come on the walks though, everyone is welcome, the dogs are there as an aid or comforter if you like.”
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In addition to the female version of Pawpalz, Toby is also planning a special overnight walk to show people that suicide is never the answer.
It will take participants along the Buchan Line from Ellon to Peterhead, ending on a beach as the sun rises.
Called Walk from the Dark into the Light, it is a 26.5 mile marathon.
Toby added: “The walk was an idea given to me by a pal that lost her brother to suicide, I knew him quite well, and over the lockdown there’s been two folk I know personally that took their own lives and there’s been several more in the past couple of weeks from the local area.
“Something more needs to be done to highlight what groups like ours are trying to achieve.
“If you are interested, message the Pawpalz (Facebook) page and we will take your name.”