A dog walking project was created to tackle isolation and physical inactivity amongst older people in Northwich, Cheshire West. The Walkeez programme was funded by Sport England through the Tackling Inequalities Fund, had been shortlisted for the ‘Mental Health & Wellbeing Award’ at the Community Sport and Recreation Awards. The initiative was lead in partnership with Active Cheshire, Age UK Cheshire and Walkeez.

The Sport and Recreation Alliance’s first-ever online Community Sport and Recreation Awards will celebrate community organisations achievements across 5 categories;

  • Diversity and Inclusion Award
  • Mental Health & Wellbeing Award
  • Resilience in Adversity Award
  • Sustainable Programme Award
  • Youth development award

The Mental Health and Wellbeing Award celebrates programmes that use the power of physical activity to promote and enhance positive wellbeing. They are ambassadors for promoting good health and mental health policies. There are three finalists in the category;

Active Cheshire and Age UK Cheshire (Walkeez Initiative)

Exim Dance Company

Moving Forces

The Walkeez programme was created out of the proven evidence that regular physical activity can help combat depression (40% reduction) combined with the therapeutic role of the dogs, successfully helping many people experiencing loneliness, isolation and mental health issues throughout lockdown.

Participants have really enjoyed the company from Cameron Turpin, the founder of Walkeez and the deliverer of the project. Cameron has helped older people get active outdoors through this dog walking scheme with the support from his dogs, Hugo, Milo, Rufus and Sammy.

Benefits of walking with a dog is that they are a great conversation starter. Many people have been stuck for conversation as we have been under strict lockdown regulations. As well as improved cardiovascular fitness, lower blood pressure, stronger muscles and bones, and decreased stress.

Roberta Pomponio Strategic Partnership Manager Active Minds from Active Cheshire said “We’re truly pleased with the successful collaboration with Walkeez and Age UK Cheshire to help reduce loneliness and increase physical activity among older people at the early stages of dementia and their carers. We are so proud to be nominated for such a prestigious award and to be given the opportunity to showcase this pilot nationally.”

Lindsay Manford, Service Manager at Age UK Cheshire, said “Our collaboration to activate older people is at the heart of this programme. Through inclusive and safe social distancing, Cameron (Walkeez) has reconnected older people through this dog walking programme who have isolated for months, impacting their mental health. We’re very excited to of been part of this awards evening.”

To watch the YouTube video covering this project please click here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9aIVhe7NDlQ

Image – Val and Bill Wright next to Cameron