An active Western Isles over 60s group is set to become even more active due to support from national older people’s charity Age Scotland and from the Paths for Health and NHS Western Isles Health Walks Project.
Shawbost group, Clann an Latha an De, recently received a £500 grant from Age Scotland and practical support from Chris Ryan, Paths for Health Co-ordinator for NHS Western Isles, to re-kindle the group’s involvement in the Transported Walks initiative.
Chris explains how important this aspect of the project has become: “A primary aim of our health walks project in the Outer Hebrides is to encourage people to increase their levels of physical activity through regular walking.
“Our early experience was that many people preferred walking out-with their immediate community and that providing transport was key to getting those people involved. With this in mind we introduced a transported walks programme, initially on Lewis and Harris.
“Working in partnership with the local authority, I put together short programmes of transported walks in several districts,” he continued. “Using a minibus hired from Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, we have delivered programmes for six groups on Lewis and Harris since 2007.
“Three of these groups, including the Westside Transported Group, have remained very active and the Westside Group in particular have always had very strong participation with an average of 12 participants in each walk.”
Recent funding changes have resulted in groups needing to fund their own transport for the walks – so Cathie Macdonald, Secretary of Clann an Latha an De, approached Age Scotland to see if they could help.
“As a group, we try to find ways of encouraging ourselves to be active and healthy, and to give ourselves things to work towards and to look forward to,” Cathie said. “As well as our get-togethers, talks and outings, members really value the opportunity for guided transported walks offered by Chris through Paths for Health and we are really pleased that these can now continue.”
Jo Cowan, Development Officer North for Age Scotland, is delighted that the charity has been able to link with Paths for Health and NHS Western Isles to support Clann an Latha an De in restarting this much-enjoyed activity.
She added: “Giving older people opportunities to come together and to keep active is at the very heart of what our member groups do. It’s a pleasure to be able to support those aspirations.”
For more information on health walks and Paths for Health in the Western Isles, contact Chris Ryan on 01851 762 017/016 or email email@example.com