Local volunteers can act as catalysts for change identifying the need for new or enhanced community services. Friends Alice Torrance and Jessie Armstrong lead the Dementia Friendly Health Walk in Carluke. They both have been on a journey together to form this walking and talking group.
Minister at Carluke’s Church of Scotland the Reverend Helen Jamieson shares their story.
Jessie and Alice both attended our Drop-in Support for people living with dementia and their carers at St Andrew's Church with their husbands, who died within a few months of each other in 2018.
Following their bereavements and realising the positive benefits of walking together afterwards, they were the ones who inspired me to partner with Paula Hubens, project coordinator from Get Walking Lanarkshire to offer Health Walks.
They trained as Volunteer Walk Leaders in February 2019 and have shared in leading a Monday Health Walk from St Andrew's Church in Carluke. They completed the Dementia Friendly Walk Leader training later in 2019 and now lead our weekly Dementia Friendly Walk.
Not only do they lead this weekly Walk and Talk Health Walk, but they also volunteered to tidy up our Church Garden which needed some 'TLC' and have done an amazing job. Their enthusiasm and commitment bring great benefit to people living with dementia and their carers. They have an amazing friendship and are an inspiring enthusiastic team.
Alice, who had previously volunteered with her local Brownies, and Jessie both agree that support is important when you are caring for a loved one with a dementia diagnosis. They said:
We both attended the Drop in Support with our husbands. In 2019 we decided to volunteer as Walk Leaders with the Monday Health Walk as we walked together after our husbands passed away. This led us to train for leading the Friday Dementia Walk.
Both of us feel the Friday Walk is an excellent opportunity for people to get out and about for a stroll and a good blether. It is a chance for carers to talk with folk in the same situation as themselves and exercise in the open air is good for everyone. We have both been in the same situation as the people who walk on Fridays so know first-hand how beneficial the walking group can be. Every wee bit of support helps.
Reverend Jamieson has found that engaging with lots of people of all ages through offering dementia support services has now become a vital part of their mission as a church. She said:
"Since 2012, St Andrew’s Church has offered support to people living with dementia, their carers and families. Over the years we have developed a range of activities and support and had meetings twice a month - but sadly all of it had to stop when we went into lockdown. Thankfully our partnership with Get Walking Lanarkshire meant that the Health Walk was one of the first activities we could offer again to people which, after long months of isolation, provided the perfect opportunity to socialise with others again."
"Our ‘Dementia Hub’ (replacing our twice monthly Drop in) now runs three times a week and people travel from all over Clydesdale to attend."
"Partnership working is key to all that we do, and we are delighted to work with Crossreach Heart for Art and Playlist for Life as well as Get Walking Lanarkshire as we seek to support people on the very challenging journey faced following a diagnosis of dementia."
"Thankfully when they come along to the Hub, people often make new friends and find support in sharing with each other."
"It has been a real privilege and a huge learning curve for me as a Minister, to journey with so many people, offering practical, emotional, spiritual and bereavement support, while enjoying good company and lots of laughs too!"
"Tea, coffee, friendship and cake are all vital ingredients in what we offer. Our friendship brings out the best in us."