Oct 09 2020

Out and about again…! An update on community work at Smithills

Things have been… challenging here in Bolton. As you may have seen in the news, we’ve been subject to changeable restrictions for a month or so. We have only been totally out of lockdown for three weeks since March, and we’ve lost count of the times the specific details of our lockdown have changed since then. Running any of our events or community work, usually planned months in advance, isn’t possible when restrictions can alter overnight.

We quickly learned that adaptability is the key, and have been trialling different kinds of virtual events (talks, films, interactive family friendly sessions). In periods of tight restrictions on socialising, these are popular; when restrictions are eased, less so. What we do have now, though, are back up events which we can repeat or revamp as the local situation changes, and a growing audience who have found these events on social media and now follow the project.
We’ve always had positive comments and interest in the dementia friendly walks programme when we post here about it and we wanted to share the good news that our partners in the programme, City of Trees, successfully applied for £15k to add to the Lottery funding we provide, in order to develop this work with us over the next twelve months. The Smithills team have also been asked to collaborate with Bolton Dementia Support on a series of six Zoom classes to ‘bring the woodland to your home’. Roberta led the first one this week, with virtual attendees joining us from their living room or care home to learn tree ID and reminisce about favourite trees.
Today saw the first outdoor walk since March, and a new activity for attendees focussed on autumn colours. Using individual, previously-quarantined Polaroid cameras (no swapping equipment) attendees were able to think about the change of season and capture images of trees and woodland on the walk, with credit card sized photos of their images to take home with them. This is all really great for hand-eye co-ordination, and for inspiring conversation about the world around us.
We know that this group have waited so long to get back outdoors and we’re glad to be part of this programme – just this week Alzheimer’s UK released a report saying the those living with dementia were amongst the worst hit by the current situation and we really hope we can do something small to bring some normality.
Photos above by George, a regular on our walks, and the trees he chose around Smithills Hall.
Vicky Entwistle, Engaging Communities Manager, Smithills
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