Pilton Walking Project - Connect, Be Active, Give
The Pilton Walking Project is primarily for older residents in a deprived area north west of Edinburgh. It was seen as a way of getting residents to be more active. A community development officer promotes and manages this project, but importantly the project is also supported and delivered by active and invaluable volunteer participation. Volunteers help develop the project, promote the project locally and act as walking guides.
The project took time to gain momentum. The community development worker began the project by talking to as many people as possible, particularly local agencies that could encourage people to start walking. It was particularly useful to talk to local GPs, as they come into contact with a large proportion of the older community. Finding the right person in a GP surgery who will commit to promoting the project can be difficult and time-consuming.
The project has evolved, for example, buddy walking has been set up to help newcomers to the group and reduce their feelings of anxiety. The group has been extended to work with a mental health project, and it has become particularly popular with unemployed women of all ages who want to lose weight.
Walkers have become much more confident. There have been improvements in their general social wellbeing and the group has developed supportive networks. The walks also encourage people to explore areas that they haven't visited since childhood and can overcome their fear of exploring their neighbourhood. The older walkers have benefited from physically maintaining themselves and preventing deterioration.
Pilton Walking Project: Connect, Be Active, Give
15 September 2011