A GROUP of hardy mental health nursing students have already racked up 1,789,142 steps to support a good cause in Alloa.

The group of 20 from the University of Stirling are in the progress of walking the distance from John O'Groats to Land's End to raise funds for the Resilience Learning Partnership (RLP).

The Stepping UP! initiative has been proving so satisfying that a full round-trip is under consideration as the nurses, led by lecturer Margaret Conlon, have already covered 813miles – just shy of the shortest possible distance of 837miles between the two famous landmarks.

Supporting Alloa-based RLP, a social enterprise that provides training and education specialising in psychological trauma and “lived experience”, the nurses have already raised half of their £1,000 target.

Lecturer Conlon, field lead in mental health nursing at the university, told the Advertiser: “Supporting people who have experienced psychological trauma is a core component of the three- or four-year, if studying to Honours, mental health degree programme.

“Shumela [Ahmed, managing director at RLP] has taught students directly about the importance of understanding the effects of psychological trauma.”

She added: “The Covid-19 pandemic has been very harsh for all nursing students but perhaps for mental health nursing students it is more difficult to express what they have seen and experienced.

“The professional practice of mental health nurses is very different from other nurses who work in adult or in intensive care wards, where the challenges are more explicit and visible.

“Mental health nurses have witnessed people becoming much more distressed in circumstances that they would otherwise have been able to prevent or anticipate; people who are already extremely vulnerable have been profoundly isolated and without their familiar routines or support networks that are so important to staying well.”

The resilience and well-being of mental health nurses has been impacted by the pandemic, the lecturer explained, and the fundraising activity has been an opportunity “to work together to get the equilibrium back, through walking, through physical activity and through meeting together as a community group who have all shared similar experiences”.

The group of nurses has been delighted with the progress so far and are in fact ahead of their walking targets.

The lecturer explained a round-trip is being considered and added: “There and back once more as we are all finding it really satisfying getting outside, meeting together and freeing our minds and bodies and building resilience.”

Visit gofund.me/e24be6f5 to support the fundraising effort.