Zoe's kayak challenge for charity which helped her 'leave anxieties behind'

Zoe Barmes in a kayak ahead of her challenge with charity Climbing Out, with partner Zak Shafique

Zoe Barmes in a kayak ahead of her challenge with charity Climbing Out, with partner Zak Shafique - Credit: Zoe Barmes

"I’m not letting my anxieties hold me back anymore."

Zoe Barmes, 30, who lives in West Hampstead, is gearing up to take part in a wilderness kayaking expedition in North Wales with the mental health charity Climbing Out.

Climbing Out - which runs five-day outdoor wellness programmes - helped Zoe to address her anxiety and eating disorders.

Now she's looking to raise money and awareness for the charity which has helped her through a tough time.

The expeditions Climbing Out runs are aimed at building rebuilding self-confidence, self-esteem and motivation in people who have been through life-changing physical or emotional trauma.

She said: “It really changed things for me. Climbing Out is such a great charity to get people talking and get feeling a little bit less dark, that’s definitely the impact it had on me in any case.

“It just did shift my perspective completely, there’s a lot of self-development work and a really inspiring week away.”

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She was encouraged to attend by her partner Zak Shafique, a firefighter, who went on the expedition after he experienced a head injury.

Zoe added: “It’s a space where we can all sit down and have these really open, honest conversations.

"It’s like you can almost feel this collective sigh of relief, when people share these things that maybe they haven’t spoken about and there’s there this sense that we all get it. It doesn’t feel so scary anymore.”

Zoe said getting involved with Climbing Out had "helped set my life back in motion".

She added: "I’m not letting my anxieties hold me back anymore. My days of prioritising exercise and food rules at the cost of time with friends, nights out, family meals and new adventures are in the past."

Kelda Wood, the charity's founder, said: “I’m really proud of Zoe and the rest of the Level 3 participants who are going to embark on the wilderness canoeing expedition this June.

"Originally it was due to be in Sweden, but due to ongoing travel restrictions we’ve changed the plan to closer to home.”

Zoe is raising funds for the charity trip by conducting an auction of personally hand-painted ceramics - sourced from West Hampstead’s local Ceramic Painting Café Art 4 Fun - on Zoom.

She is also set to spend her weekends canoeing and kayaking in preparation for the expedition.

To find out more and support Zoe's fundraising, visit the crowdfunding page she and Zak share at justgiving.com/fundraising/Zak-Shafique1