A TRAILBLAZING project bringing people living with dementia closer to nature has been given a vote of confidence with a £15,000 boost that will keep it running for at least another two years.
A 10-week series of Get Outdoors sessions begins at Evanton Community Wood today, allowing those with an early dementia diagnosis to get involved in crafting, cooking, exploring and making new friends.
Co-ordinator Simon Harry told the Journal the Life Changes Trust dementia project funding was a welcome boost, paving the way to build on what was done in previous sessions.
Those attending the latest sessions will work with willow weavers, woodland artists and archery teachers. They’ll also get the chance how to fly fish and offered the opportunity to be part of a unique project devised by local dance company, Plan B, called Path of Movement.
Young people from Kiltearn Nursery will also be bridging the generation gap by getting involved in craft projects.
The dementia project was piloted in 2015 and has gone from strength to strength. Woodland is now branching out to become dementia-friendly under a Paths for All scheme making the forest more accessible and appealing for those living with the condition.
Mr Harry said: "This time we are working with many diverse partners to make the project really exciting. The last sessions were run between October and February in what wasn’t a great winter and went really well. The last question many of the users asked was: ’When will it be starting again?’.
"It became a fixed part of their week and got people out of the house. Dementia and loneliness can go hand in hand so that is an important social aspect. You can start with a particular agenda, with things you plan to do, but you find too that sometimes you have two-hour lunches because that’s what people want to do.
"Sometimes you just go along with the feeling of the users. It worked well."
Meanwhile the wider community is being invited to a unique woodworking event on Saturday, June 9 when plans to build another shelter for future woodland projects will take a big step forward. Tarzan the Wonder Horse will be used to haul fallen larch into the forest for the build. The project will include input through the community payback programme run by the court service.
At the event, running at the community woodland from 10.30am to 3pm, there will be an opportunity to try green woodworking and enjoy refreshments sponsored by the Co-op and prepared by super-baker, Dee.
Gail Goller of the Alzheimer Scotland Dementia Resource Centre in Dingwall said: "There is growing evidence of the benefits of being outdoors for people with dementia both in gardens such as the Dingwall Dementia Resource Centre and woodland areas like the Evanton Woods project. That might be developing new as well as retaining old skills and building confidence so we are pleased to see that local people living with dementia in Ross-shire have more choice and opportunities to get outdoors, meet others in a similar situation and make new friendships. We wish them continued good luck with the initiative."
Find out how to get there and more at www.evantonwood.com