National acclaim for Hebridean walking project

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A well-established health walk project in the Outer Hebrides has received the national walking charity Paths for All’s Dementia Friendly Walking accreditation.

Managed by NHS Western Isles, Walk on Hebrides received the recognition for working in partnership with local agencies and third sector organisations to involve people living with the long-term condition and their carers. Their input has helped to shape the four dementia friendly health walks now on offer across the Outer Hebrides.

The walks are available in North Bay in Barra, Grimsay in North Uist, Uig in West Lewis and Pairc and Kinloch in the south of Lewis.

To date, 19 leaders with Walk on Hebrides have attended a half-day dementia friendly walking training course provided by Paths for All to ensure anyone living with dementia feels safe and supported on the weekly short routes.

Trained walk leader Lisanne MacInnes, who leads the North Bay walk in Barra, said: ‘The walks are a great way of motivating people to get out as a group and enjoy some fresh air. Those living with dementia enjoy the different scenery and company on our walks.’

For someone with a dementia diagnosis, being side by side while walking can feel more comfortable and less daunting than face to face group activities. Walking in local surroundings can help a person remember and share stories from different stages in their life.

Carl Greenwood, senior development officer at Paths for All, congratulated Walk on Hebrides for gaining its accreditation. He said: ‘The number of people in Scotland currently living with dementia, which has no cure, is around 90,000 and this is expected to increase to 164,000 in the next 15 years.

‘The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted how important community services are for supporting people where they live.

‘Dementia friendly health walks can play a role in preventing dementia through encouraging regular exercise and providing direct support to those living with the condition.’

Find out more about Walk on Hebrides at https://www.pathsforall.org.uk/walk-project/Walk-on-Hebrides.

Find out more about Paths for All’s dementia friendly walking at  www.pathsforall.org.uk.