Working in partnership with the Southend Borough Council and Dementia Friends, the Essex Wildlife Visitor Centre has been running events to help people living with dementia experience wildlife in their daily lives.
Essex Wildlife Trust was nominated along with four other organisations for the award’s ‘Leisure’ category. The charity’s visitor centre in Southend won the award for the guided walks and flower arranging classes they offered to people living with dementia.
The award recognised the combined benefits of walking as part of a group in the beautiful Essex countryside along with the social interaction in the Woodland Centre after or during the flower arranging classes.
Being outside in nature is vital for health and wellbeing. The Alzheimer's Society recommends 30 minutes of activity per day at least five times a week to maintain fitness, independence and help boost mood and wellbeing.
Essex Wildlife Trust volunteers were trained as Dementia Friends to support those taking part in the events along with their carers and family members, allowing them to also enjoy the activity or sit in the café at the centre and wait for the activity to finish.
The success of the dementia-friendly initiatives at Essex Wildlife Trust’s Belfairs Woodland Centre championed by the visitor centre’s former Assistant Centre Manager, Alison Askwith, has encouraged the charity to look at rolling out the guided walks to more of its visitor centres. This will mean that more people across Essex living with dementia can reap the benefits of exercising and socialising at one of their stunning nature reserves.