Aug 24 2020

Bringing back dementia friendly walks to Smithills

(Photo from a pre-lockdown walk)

The partnership programme between the Woodland Trust and City of Trees at Smithills, through which we run monthly dementia friendly walks, has been on hiatus since March. We have been keeping in touch with our walkers via newsletters and a WhatsApp group (with a stream of photos of gardens and wildlife spots from our regulars), but onsite visits have not been possible.

Last week Roberta and I met with Irene and Joyce to ‘trial run’ a new style walk. Often on our walks we group together, to allow us to chat and also to support each other if required; group members hold hands and join arms, with us and with each other. We also meet indoors and do activities indoors. That will all change – as will group size, which affects the opportunity to chat with others in the same situation (a really important part of the walks). Irene and Joyce identified for us that confidence in getting back outdoors after five months at home is another challenge; as is anxiety around being back out in the world generally. Through this meeting, and through chatting with other group members, we have redesigned our walks so that they will be in small groups, with participants matched on confidence level. We’ll have regular rest stops with seating, and we will ask people to bring a flask so we can still have the all important brew and chat.

Working with our group really enabled us to design a walk which takes into account their needs and also what people will find enjoyable. We’ll be advertising through Age UK, Bolton Dementia Support and local GP services… we can’t wait to get going again in September with our photography activity!

Photo from our very first walk, in April 2019.

Vicky Entwistle – Engaging Communities Manager, Smthills

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