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A dementia-friendly walking award has been given to Walk on Hebrides by the national Paths for All scheme.

It comes as the Pairc Trust sets out on the first dementia and Macmillan-friendly health walk of the year, which today (Tuesday 11 January) was around Kershader. 

The well-established health walk programme now has four dementia-friendly walking groups led in Northbay Barra, Grimsay in North Uist, Uig in west Lewis and Pairc and Kinloch in Lochs.

The Paths for All accreditation recognises the NHS Western Isles-managed project, which has successfully worked with local agencies and third sector organisations to involve people with dementia and their carers.

The input of participants has helped to shape the four Walk On Hebrides groups and 19 walk leaders have attended a half-day training course, provided by Paths for All, to ensure anyone living with dementia feels safe and supported on the weekly free short walks. 

Trained 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.”

Walking in a group is known to be a social way to enjoy gentle exercise. For someone with a dementia, being side-by-side while walking can feel more comfortable and less daunting than face-to-face group activities.

Being outdoors in nature creates easy conversation topics, while walking in local surroundings can also support reminiscence, sharing stories while walking. 

Carl Greenwood, senior development officer at Paths for All, congratulated Walk on Hebrides for gaining their accreditation. He said: “Our accreditation to Walk on Hebrides is well deserved. Walking in a group is a perfect way for people to enjoy exercise, company, and fresh air.

“Walks can play a role in both preventing dementia through encouraging regular exercise and providing direct support to those living with dementia.”

As well as the accreditation for their walks, Pairc Trust has also been awarded almost £3,000 towards a ‘get fit for free’ scheme, under the Scottish Government’s healthy islands fund, also announced recently.

Pictures show the Northbay walking group in Barra, and Pairc’s timetable of dementia-friendly walks, starting today.