Bield partnership puts Stirling on path to health

Older people in Stirling have been boosting their health in the great outdoors thanks to a partnership between Bield and Scotland’s walking charity.

The housing provider and Paths for All have seen tenants at Strathallan Court benefit physically and mentally from joining a walking group, which takes older members of the community on a range of different routes around Bridge of Allan.

The walks, run by one of Paths for All’s walking projects Stirling Walking Network, are dementia friendly and have taken place every Thursday since April.

Starting outside the Bield retirement housing development, walk leaders take the group of up to 15 people into the leafy landscape of Bridge of Allan, discovering local landmarks and points of interest along the way.

One tenant who has felt the benefits of the walking group is 86-year-old Edith, who joined on the recommendation of her GP and to improve her balance.

She said: “The walks are so well organised and set at a pace where no one is left behind or charging ahead.

“They’re suited to a range of abilities – it’s great even for those like myself who use a walking frame.

“Motivating yourself to get outside and get moving isn’t always easy, but since the group formed, I look forward to walking every week.

“I feel confident and comfortable having the support and company of others around me.

“It’s a great community event and is a nice way to socialise and get to know our neighbours in Bridge of Allan.”

Once walkers return to the development, they are treated to a host of refreshments provided by Strathallan Court in the communal lounge.

Sandra Nicol, development manager at Strathallan Court and walk leader with Paths for All, said: “Bield and Paths for All working together in this way just makes sense - the older people in the area have certainly felt the benefits.

“Before, a lot of people would have walked by the development and thought that tenants couldn’t come and go as they pleased. But that’s not the case at all and I think we’ve really started to alter perceptions.

“We set up the Thursday walks to get older people out and enjoying the fresh air, while making friends in the process. Right now we have between 10-15 people attending - four or five of them are tenants from Strathallan Court.

“We also have six or seven walk leaders now – all qualified through Paths for All – who make the weekly gatherings possible.

“One of them is Alison Archibald who is like a fountain of knowledge; we all learn so much from her about the area while out exploring. It must be the former school teacher in her!

“What we would really love to do now is roll this out to other schemes in the Stirling area. It has been so beneficial mentally and physically for all those involved.

“Anyone who fancies pulling on comfy shoes and getting a bit of fresh air can join us from 10.30am every Thursday.”

Paths for All champions everyday walking in Scotland, aiming to get more people walking - everyone, everywhere and every day.

The charity supports 22 dementia-friendly walking projects, including Stirling Walking Network, and has trained 249 dementia-friendly volunteer Walk Leaders.

Walks in Stirling are supported by Active Stirling and Stirling Walking Network. Those interested in taking part in walks in the Bridge of Allan area should contact Sandra Nicol on 01786 832815.

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