AN EAST Lothian project which promotes the physical and mental health of the over-50s has celebrated receiving official ‘accreditation’ for its dementia-friendly walks.

Ageing Well, run by East Lothian Council in partnership with NHS Lothian, has been organising walks in Dunbar for dementia sufferers during the past year in a bid to reach the benchmark set by Scotland’s walking charity Paths for All.

Parvine Jazayeri, Ageing Well coordinator, undertook the necessary training and, in turn, was able to train volunteer leaders to lead the dementia-friendly walks, which took place on Fridays prior to the Covid-19 pandemic.

She consulted with DF groups and worked closely with new partners such as Alzheimer Scotland.

A portfolio showcasing the initiative was created and sent to Paths for All, which awarded Ageing Well the accreditation for Dementia Friendly (DF) Walking, which could be rolled out across East Lothian subject to volunteer training.

Parvine, who is based at Meadowmill Sports Centre, near Tranent, said: “Over the past year, Ageing Well has been working very hard on the new project. We already run 10 health walks in East Lothian.

“To make our walks even more inclusive, we wanted to ensure everyone and anyone could access them.

“We have now been awarded our accreditation. This is such a great achievement for the Ageing Well project.”

She added: “The accreditation is a way of recognising the work of the Walking for Health projects that have made changes to support people, who are living well in the community with dementia, to engage in walking. The DF project team at Paths For All gave guidance and support to me throughout the year. The walks can now be classed as DF and will be continuing once this crisis has passed.

“I just want to say a massive thank you to everyone who has supported this project, especially the walk leaders. We could not have done this without them.

“It has been a busy year but the hard work has paid off.

“Although our health walks may not be operating at the moment, I hope people are able to find some time to enjoy a walk close to home.”

Parvine said it was also hoped to introduce health walks for East Lothian residents with cancer as part of the Macmillan Move More Scotland programme after the Covid-19 crisis.

She has also been working in partnership with CHANGES, a Musselburgh-based community health project, as the two organisations run similar walking programmes.

They are hoping to launch dementia-friendly buddy walks across the county in the future. These would offer people who don’t like the thought of walking in a big group another option.