We worked with partner Alzheimer’s Society to run a series of dementia friendly walks at Longford Park in Trafford
City of Trees and Alzheimer’s Society teamed up to develop a Walk and Talk group in Trafford’s largest municipal park. Launched in October 2016, the fortnightly walks aim to enable people with dementia and their carers enjoy some gentle exercise and make new friends.
People are invited to walk as a group with the knowledge that they are supported by trained members of staff and volunteers.
Janie Burrage, Walk Trafford Project Officer said “Our partnership with Alzheimer’s Society means people are assessed and supported before we go on the walk. Longford Park is a beautiful flat park in the heart of Stretford, making it easily accessible by public transport or car. The walk is great because it gives people an opportunity to share experiences and enjoy each other’s company. We all sit down afterwards to enjoy a brew and a chat in the community centre”
Why is it important?
Current estimates suggest there are 30,000 people living with dementia in Greater Manchester. City of Trees recognises the benefits of greenspace to people’s long-term health and sense of wellbeing, and aims to encourage greater use of our natural environment.
Outdoor spaces provide an escape from indoor pressures and a safe place for people to enjoy watching others take part in activities . Wildlife watching and walking have a calming effect and are particularly popular amongst those living with dementia.
How was it done?
Following a review of walking activities in Trafford, we recognised there was a need for a new Walk and Talk in the area. The existing walk developed by Alzheimer’s Society had become extremely popular and members of this group wanted to explore a new park.
Sale Water Park was selected for a pilot walk because it offered a direct connection to nature. However feedback from volunteers revealed the park lacked sufficient places to rest. People living with dementia also commented that the proposed route would be too long for many in the group; ‘There is a lot to see in peak season, including great wildlife. However bicycles also use the path. This can surprise an unwary visitor. The pathways may also become somewhat muddy underfoot.’ Brian Weartherilt, Alzheimer’s Society volunteer (Sept 2016).
This encouraged City of Trees and Alzheimer’s Society to explore Longford Park as an alternative. Staff, volunteers and people living with dementia were enthusiastic and extremely positive following the subsequent reconnaissance. The general consensus was that the park offered a safe and enjoyable location to walk with opportunities to vary the route.
Thanks to Friends of Longford Park and Firswood Community Centre the group also has a great place to meet, chat and enjoy a warm drink.
‘This is my first walk in Longford Park as a carer for my sister with dementia. The park is lovely; I have been coming with my dogs for years. I hope more people will join the group as I enjoyed it [the walk] very much.’ Pauline, carer (April 2017).
 Dementia United. 2015. https://dementiaunited.net/why-is-it-necessary/ [Accessed 16.02.17]
 Natural England. 2016. Is it nice outside? - Consulting people living with dementia and their carers about engaging with the natural environment. file:///C:/Users/Janie/Downloads/NECR211_edition_1.pdf [Accessed 16.02.17]