The founder of a mental health support service has revealed hopes to turn it into a fully-fledged charity this year.
Clarity Walk, set up by Matt Wallace, offers people in the Highlands – specifically Inverness – digital detox walks to draw people away from their hectic lives and socialise with others.
In November, the charity received £20,000 as part of the Scottish Edge’s first-ever Community Edge award, which Mr Wallace said “meant the world”.
Now he has revealed he plans to use the funds to continue delivering the service and expand to help even more people.
He said: “The funding will enable us to go in a new direction and be sustainable and not only survive the recession but thrive in it.”
Clarity Walk was founded in 2019 when Mr Wallace, who suffered from mental health issues, decided to use his own experiences to help others.
Detox walks get people off their phones for an hour a day and reconnect with nature with over 8,000 participants so far.
Clarity Walk also runs school initiatives to get kids into nature, helping 12 schools and more than 200 children, some from trauma backgrounds.
Speaking about what the money will help achieve, Mr Wallace said: “In 2023, we plan to develop our training services for mental health providing accredited qualifications for workplaces.
“We also want to expand the Clarity Walk community services to support more people.
“We are also a social enterprise meaning whatever a company invests in us for training we can then put it into the social projects.”
‘Things can be done from the Highlands’
If a company makes an investment of more than £1,000 to Clarity Walk, they will be able to host a team building day for school kids for free.
This will allow the organisation to support more schools while fulfilling the training needs of the people involved.
Mr Wallace says the new business model would allow the group to be “more empowered and less on the breadline” while focusing on community impact.
In the coming months, Clarity Walk is planning to launch a woman’s walk in addition to the men’s walk on its journey to become a fully-fledged charity.
While things are looking up for Clarity Walk now, Mr Wallace admits it was “extremely challenging” to keep the service going through the pandemic.
“This award has guaranteed our future because going into the recession there has been and will be a lot of lost opportunities,” he said.
“To know that people don’t have to be alone with what we offer is something special to me and I know it has made such a difference to a lot of people.
“It’s important to be a constant presence for people, especially in the Highlands, given the high suicide statistics, and if we make that connection, we can then be the prevention before a crisis or afterwards we can help in the recovery.”
He also recognises that while Clarity Walk might not have the same national attention as other charities, it has a solid foundation from which to grow.
He said: “Winning the award shows that things can be done from the Highlands and it is worth making that impact in people’s lives.”