Out in the world
From the December 2016/January 2017 issue of our magazine, a walking group in Carlisle that gets people with dementia out in the world.
A walking group in Carlisle, led by Alzheimer's Society volunteers, helps people affected by dementia to get outdoors and stay connected.
Tara Edwards, Services Manager in Cumbria, has no doubts about the value of the walking group run by our volunteers there.
'It's important to offer something different, something active and outside rather than only closed groups, away from the world – something out in the world.'
Brian Scroggie, a 66-year old former GP, leads the monthly walks with fellow volunteer Carole Grears, 57.
'Some folk have been good walkers in the past but they've missed out after being diagnosed with dementia.
'As well as getting outside, the group is very much a social occasion. Friendships have developed within the group, and carers are able to share experiences.'
Kathleen Trotman, 71, started going to the group with her husband, Brian, last year.
Brian, 73, was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease two years ago, and Kathleen values the opportunity for them both to be around different faces.
'It's a chance to chat to other people, I get to walk with someone else and so does he.
'We always go for some lunch afterwards, and we get to sit and talk with different people.
'It's another day of something else for Brian to do, otherwise there's just the two of us.'
Geraldine Hill has been coming to the group for a few months with a friend's 89-year old mother, Dorothy, who has Alzheimer's.
Geraldine, 59, emphasises the support provided by the volunteers.
'Brian and Carole are great. They mingle with everybody, talk to and walk with them – they're really helpful.'
'The more variety and opportunities that can be offered to people the better.
'I chat with the people with dementia and their carers, and I'm on hand if they need a bit of support.'
Brian prepares for each walk in advance, checking routes for potential problems and researching the location's history to share with everyone.
Geraldine says every walk with the group has its memorable moments.
'Dorothy loves singing on the walks, she'll sing as we go along. In the café one afternoon after a walk, she started singing and the staff there loved it. They wanted her to come back!'
Being visible and creating a dementia-friendly community is another important aspect of the group.
'People see us and they see everybody helping each other, getting to know each other.'
'By taking the group out to places, it helps with breaking down stigma and barriers.'