Health Walks in a time of Covid

We asked four Walking for Health projects to share their experience of the past year of lockdown, detailing how their project has adapted, faced up to new challenges and strived to keep going through the pandemic, including how they have supported people with dementia.

Chirnside Health Walk
Jedburgh Health Walk
Walk in the Park
Walk with Braveheart

All four projects offer Dementia Friendly Health Walks and are recipients of our accreditation meaning they have involved people with the health condition in the design of their activities. They are also all members of the Scottish Health Walk Network benefitting from our support. 

Adapting to change, being positive, keeping everyone connected and active are some of the key activities undertaken by all projects. Recruiting more volunteers and offering Buddy Walks or 1:1 supported walks has been an important way to keep many people with long term health conditions active and connected to their community.    

Enjoy these project reflections of Health Walks in a time of Covid.

Walk with Braveheart in Forth Valley 

We firstly kept in contact with our walkers via telephone, email, and online to keep them up to date with restrictions and highlight the support we could provide from our end. This was done with the help of our wonderful Walk Leaders.

One walker commented: “It’s very kind of Braveheart to call and stay in touch”

We also changed our quarterly newsletters to monthly ones to specifically reach those with no internet access. Furthermore, we increased our website and social media presence by sharing activity ideas, motivational messages and signposted to online activities provided by our partners.

Our weekly online Walk Leaders meetings were a great way to gather thoughts on ways to support our walkers and of course, have a catch-up. We are now also providing monthly online Tea and Chat sessions and Strength and Balance sessions, for anyone to join

Read more Walk with Braveheart through lockdown

Walk in the Park in Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park 

Each group had its own [Zoom] weekly chat and at times featured guest appearances from other group’s members who had a skill or interest to share.  There has been a full project webinar from Saving Scotland’s Squirrels, craft sessions, quizzes, literary readings, and musical performances.

Although the chats finished in August 2020 when Health Walks could resume, they have been restarted during this second lockdown since January 2021 and provide a vital connection for our members.

Read more Keep Calm and Carry on Zooming

Bums Off Seats in Fife

As time went on, we were able to re-start route-finding and risk assessing.  We knew that the shape of the programme would need to change so we made an early start and engaged those volunteers that were able to do this. 

We recruited new volunteers as we wanted to ensure that we had additional support on the walks to allow as many people as possible who wanted to return to be able to do so.  The message went out on social media, through our Health and Social Care connections and of course through our Walk Leader's own networks.

Read more Making the pandemic a positive opportunity

Walk It in the Scottish Borders 

Noticeably, we had an increase in the number of referrals to our project.  In November 2020 I was delighted to launch our Buddy Walking 1-1 programme in response to this demand.

This allowed us to take referrals from a wide range of partners and individuals, which then allowed volunteers to support an individual to get out and walk.  Many of these referrals came from those who had a long-term health condition (mental and physical), those who were isolated and those who had a dementia diagnosis.  We took 17 referrals in the first month alone, all of whom we matched with a Walk Leader.

Read more Walk It and Covid-19

Health Walks are permitted under the current Scottish Government Covid-19 guidance.

Groups of up to 30 people can take part in organised exercise outdoors across all levels.  

Read our Covid-19 guidance for our networks and the public on the Coronavirus outbreak. We also have a dedicated website Members Area for Scottish Health Walk Network members and a Slack channel where we post updates and news as things change during the pandemic.

You can find your local Health Walk using our online map.

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