Scotland’s national walking charity, Paths for All’s annual Volunteer Awards celebrate individuals and groups who have done exceptional work in bringing their communities together to get walking, encourage active travel and transform their local spaces.
The annual event “Celebrating Scotland’s Walking Champions” showcases the outstanding dedication and achievements of volunteers across the country who help to create a happier, healthier and greener Scotland.
The dedicated team at Beechwood Care Home is one of the exceptional groups nominated for the Health Walk Group of the Year Award with their all-embracing dementia-friendly walk.
The walk was set up in a partnership with Get Walking Lanarkshire which offers a programme of free health walks across North and South Lanarkshire by helping to establish new walks as well as providing training and support to volunteer walk leaders.
Cathy Togneri, Service Manager at Beechwood Care Home, said: “We are incredibly honoured to have been nominated for this award. It means a lot to the team to be recognised for their efforts in helping to make our residents’ lives at Beechwood as active as possible.
“After a consultation with the residents last year, we discovered a group of them who all really enjoyed walking and getting out in the fresh air, surrounded by greenery and nature.
“With the assistance from Paths for All and Get Walking Lanarkshire we decided to set up our own ‘Beechwood Health Walk Group’ and sent four staff members to attend training to become walk leaders.
“Now, our dementia-friendly walk takes place every Monday afternoon and is open to everyone from the local community. We even had pre-school children from Craigneuk Family Centre and Craigneuk Community Council members attend our ‘Big Fit Walk’ in June this year.”
The care home’s main aim is to make the walking group as inclusive as possible to help people make new friends and forge links with the community, with an emphasis on there being a life after care home admission.
Cathy added: “Walking in the local community has helped to evoke memories for the residents which encourages meaningful conversations. Staff and residents have forged stronger bonds by sharing experiences and reminiscing about important life events.
“The walks have had a substantial impact on minimising stress and have positively influenced residents by reducing anxiety and depression, and improving their overall mood.
“Being part of community walking groups is now part of the culture at Beechwood and has shaped the residents’ weekly activities, giving them something to look forward to.”
The key event in Scotland’s community calendar, which will take place at the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh on Tuesday 10th September, will see the country’s amazing volunteer winners presented with an award, a certificate, £250 towards their project and a £30 gift voucher.
Ian Findlay CBE, Chief Officer at Paths for All, said: “The Volunteer Awards are always a very important event in Scotland’s community calendar as they highlight some of our country’s unsung heroes.
“Walking is a fantastic way of improving the nation’s physical, mental and social health, so the work these volunteers are doing really is invaluable to Scotland. They are essential for encouraging more people to get outdoors and enjoy everyday walking.
“Our awards ceremony is a time to celebrate the fantastic work that is going on up and down the country.”
Paths for All works with Scottish Government and 30 partners to support and deliver national policies, such as the National Walking Strategy and other ‘active travel’ initiatives.
The charity donates thousands of pounds worth of grants to worthwhile projects that improve health, promote walking and improve environments for people to be active in.