Julie from Prestwick volunteers her spare time as Director of Dementia Friendly Prestwick, a local charity which helps support people with dementia, their families and carers.
Every Monday, Julie and a group of volunteers go on inclusive walks made accessible for people living with dementia, to support people to remain physically and socially active in their local area – anyone is welcome to come for a walk.
Julie was recognised as Dementia Friendly Volunteer of the Year at our annual Volunteer Awards at the Scottish Parliament on 10th September.
The support network that we’ve created protects individuals who might otherwise have become socially isolated. We have a loyal group of walkers and volunteers who attend the group every week, and together we’ve built a bond that makes us like family. We’re out no matter what the weather’s doing and haven’t missed a Monday walk yet.
A group of volunteers in Prestwick set up Dementia Friendly Prestwick three years ago, with support from people in Alzheimer Scotland, local Health and Social Care Partnership, NHS Ayrshire and Arran and others. Paths for All continues to support their walking activities and their aims to make the promenade more dementia friendly.
The walk starts at the Grangemuir Road end of the beach and goes along the scenic, flat, accessible beach promenade. Depending on the turn out and weather, walks are between 25 and 50 minutes long.
Julie added: “Everyone is always up for a laugh and a blether; it’s great fun and there’s always be tea and biscuits at Parkstone hotel afterwards. I get just as much out of the walks as those attending for support and strength.
“I am honoured to win this award as I feel we have built something really valuable.”
There are now three trained volunteer Walk Leaders enrolled in the programme with an additional three volunteers with dementia awareness training, all committed to helping people across Prestwick improve their physical, mental and social health.
Ian Findlay CBE, Chief Officer at Paths for All, said: “Getting outside and going for a walk is so valuable for our own personal health and for the health of our planet, so it’s very important to take the time to thank volunteers like Julie, whose selfless efforts are making a huge difference to the lives of others around her.
“It’s inspiring to think that, collectively, these volunteers who are invested in making walking a bigger part of daily life are helping to incite important behavioural change.”
To find out more about Dementia Friendly Prestwick.