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Video transcript | We are the countryside: meet Victoria Ekpo

Below is the full transcript of the video ‘We are the countryside: meet Victoria Ekpo’.

At the weekend they just go absolutely mad being out in the open air. I think it’s the oxygen.

Everywhere I have lived, in Iraq and Malaysia, wherever it is in the world, I find a way to take that break, to step away. Our lives in the cities are spent working. It’s a very busy life. Things are intruding on you all the time.

I’m Victoria. I now live in Liverpool and it’s been a long road here. I chose Liverpool for the very simple reason: Liverpool is so well situated. You’ve got the Lake District, Peak District, the Yorkshire Dales.

I write and publish. I work mainly in teacher education. The last 18 months, like most people, I’ve been working from home. So all our courses and everything got moved online.

It’s been very lonely. Our friends, when we check in, haven’t been doing that well. It’s one thing to say I’m going for a walk in my local park, but I’m going for a walk in my local park the twentieth time alone. That’s how Footsteps came about.

Footsteps, it’s a group, a walking group for black women, for women and their friends. It’s a group initially just to support us through a difficult time. But it’s turned into a community. And when the restrictions lifted, we started to go further and further and further.

Access is not always easy. We have no transportation, no trains, the buses take forever. We drive especially when we are doing very long hikes.

Always when we go out the space expands to include us. Lots of smiles. You know people don’t just stop and say hello, they want to stop and share a little bit in their lives.

You’re on a 7, 8, 10-hour walk sometimes. It’s a lot of time to have a conversation and finish it. So you’ve got a gaggling group of black women who have been working terribly hard all week, and they just go absolutely mad being out in the open air. I think it’s the oxygen.

It supports our mental health in ways that are beyond imaginable. We return from these trips renewed, reinvigorated. It is for me the opportunity to leave things behind, kind of reconnect with myself, with my thoughts, with the person I’d like to be and who I want to be.

We are the land, wrapped in the promise of its card, freed by its generosity, given control in trust. To roam, to tend, to be. We are the countryside, you me and every fellow here.

Watch the video on YouTube.