Christine’s history walks help people love where they live

Christine, a practice health champion at Longrove GP Surgery, on a history walk

Christine Klein is a practice health champion at Longrove Surgery and she leads history walks from the practice once a month.

Christine is passionate about local history and helping people to love where they live. She has carefully planned a series of walks, each lasting around an hour, and has researched interesting aspects of local history to explain on each walk. She brings old photographs and other documents to illustrate her talks and encourages people on the walks to contribute their knowledge. Older people who have lived in the area for a long time might share their memories of buildings like theatres or cinemas that are no longer there. The walkers also get the benefit of Christine’s many local connections.

“A bonus of knowing so many people in Barnet is that we’ll be talking about something on the street and we get people joining in – like people in local businesses who say, ‘oh, come in to my shop, it’s got the oldest fireplace in Barnet’! I’ve been very lucky, because on every walk I’ve done, somebody has come and added something to what I’ve been saying. That brings it to life a bit, when you talk to people who have something to add and they know the history because they work or live there. I have put quite a bit of effort into the research and I have some quirky stories as well, that I’ve learnt along the way from local people.”

Christine’s passion and her stories are certainly helping to entice the patients out and about, with the monthly history walks consistently having good numbers of participants. Getting people out into the fresh air, to be active and connect with other people is at the heart of Christine’s motivation.

“I got involved because I like helping people. I thought, if the activities we can do as practice health champions get people out socialising and exercising, then that is something I approve of. I think we should all be physically active and I believe socialising can help with depression and all sorts of other problems. That was the main reason why I decided to be a practice health champion. I thought, I’ve got lots of ideas of things I could do and I could use my skills to help other people. I enjoy leading the walks, and the people who join them are contributing and learning about their area and they’re socialising and they’re walking.”

Christine wants to reach out to patients from the practice who would benefit from the opportunity to connect and socialise and hopes more people will get involved over time. The walks are led at a gentle pace, as many of those attending are older people, with hip or knee problems. At the end of the walk, everyone is invited to go for coffee at a local coffee shop or pub.

“There was one lady with agoraphobia who joined a walk, and she came up to thank me afterwards. It took a lot of courage for her to go out and she said she really enjoyed it and everyone had been really nice to her, so that was good. One man who is a carer for his wife comes on my history walks. He says it gets him out of the house for an hour or two and he enjoys it because he’s socialising.”