When Diane’s mother was diagnosed with dementia, she was very keen to enable her to carry on walking.
Diane had to come up to York in February urgently, to arrange some support for her mother Margaret. Whilst Diane is originally from York, she now lives in Kent, so it was quite a journey.
Margaret had been diagnosed with dementia during the first lockdown and was having increasingly difficult times. Diane’s father, as Margaret’s main carer, was very worried about his wife and found aspects of her behaviour very upsetting.
Diane was keen to work out what her mum needed, and to find out what support was available in the city. She didn’t know York and was not sure where to even start. At the same time, Margaret was at a point with her dementia where she was suspicious of what her daughter was doing and in denial that she needed any help at all.
It was on the 8th February, a Monday, that Diane managed to speak to Sue Lloyd at Age UK York who was able to talk her through various options that could be a support for her mother. One of these options was requesting a walking buddy through Move the Masses. The very next day, she got on the phone to Tiff, our Move Mates Project Manager, and explained the situation.
Margaret had always been a keen walker, was still very able to walk and up until 4 years ago had also been a regular tennis player in Poppleton, her local village. In fact, originally from Cumbria, Margaret has been a keen runner in her day, representing her county all over the country.
Tiff and Diane agreed it would be good for Tiff to talk to Margaret directly, to make a connection and to ensure Margaret herself was on board with having a walking buddy, not just feeling co-erced into it by her daughter. Diane was absolutely delighted to hear her mother on the phone to Tiff enthusiastically agreeing to being paired up.
Tiff got to work swiftly on our communication channels to try and ind the right match for Margaret as soon as possible. Everyone agreed it would be great to Diane to meet the volunteer paired with her mother so that she could talk through her mum’s needs and also to check she felt comfortable with it all.
Diane also wanted to convince her father that having a walking buddy would be great for Margaret.
On the Thursday, just two days after the referral, Tiff found Maire as a Move Mate for Margaret. They quickly arranged for the first walk, and a meeting with Diane, to talk place the following Monday. The walk, and the meeting were a success. Diane thought Maire was lovely (she is!) and her mother looked really happy on her return.
Diane cannot believe how lucky she has been. She describes the walks as a lifeline for her mum.
“It’s been absolutely wonderful. The walks give her such a lift. I was really scared that something that has always been such a positive in her life – walking – was going to disappear. Now she has that back. It really is a lifeline.”
Diane feels that her mother benefits from the walks in several ways; getting new stimulation from diferent company, keeping her body and mint fit and also as a potential stepping stone for doing other physical activities in a group in the future.
Her father also gets some respite, enabling him to do some little activities for himself, as he gets a break from being a full-time carer.
“Getting my mother paired with a Move Mate all happened so quickly and efficiently. I am so impressed. I am also overwhelmed by the sense of kindness and care of the Move the Masses team. A huge thank you to everyone.”
Maire, who walks with Margaret, heard about Move the Masses through her sister who also volunteers with us.
Having always been a volunteer in some form, during lockdown it was harder to do her regular slots with refugees, so she applied to be a Move Mate.
For Maire, their first walk together was easy. They stuck to generally talking about family, but on their second walk, they realised they had the region Cumbria in common. Margaret is from there and Maire had worked there for 20 years. Their conversations got more varied and diverse.
Their last couple of walks has seen their conversation develop more and more with Margaret making suggestions of which path they should walk down and stopping to chat to local people she knows. The pairing is a success!
Maire also gets plenty out of being a Move Mate too.
“I’ve always done some sort of volunteering, but I find being a Move Mate very doable and accessible. It’s really very easy. We walk on a Monday morning whcih I really like. It gees me up for the week, giving me the impetus to get out of bed and start the week doing something good!”