CORONAVIRUS may have put a stop to large fundraising events taking place, but it hasn’t deterred many determined supporters from marching out to raise money in the battle against dementia.
The Alzheimer’s Society’s flagship Memory Walk events had to be cancelled this year, but the UK’s leading dementia charity has been calling on the public to take part in their own smaller walks to help raise money that’s needed more than ever.
In response, staff at Pinhay House Care Home near Lyme Regis have laced up their trainers and put their best feet forward, walking more than a staggering 500 miles between them to help the 850,000 people living with dementia in the UK.
Kara Marshall, care supervisor at the home, said: “Many of our 23 residents are living with some form of dementia, so it’s a cause close to our hearts.
“When our manager Sheena Lee heard that Alzheimer’s Society were looking for people to plan their own Memory Walks this year, she thought it would be a great way to raise money – and the spirits of staff.
“So from August 1 to the end of the month, about 15 members of staff have been tracking their steps at work and home and – so far – we’ve clocked up over 500 miles between us.”
The call-out for walkers comes at a critical time for those people living with dementia, their family and carers.
Marion Child, head of region for Alzheimer’s Society said: “The coronavirus pandemic has hit people with dementia the hardest with a quarter of those who’ve died having dementia.
“People have told us that lack of social contact is taking a toll on their health and that their dementia symptoms have worsened during lockdown. Carers are feeling isolated too and are struggling to get respite.
“The needs of people affected by dementia has never been higher. Alzheimer’s Society support services have been used over half a million times since the pandemic began but we’re facing a shortfall of up to £45 million in income, as a result of coronavirus.
“That’s why we’ve been asking people to unite with us by taking part in their own Memory Walk to raise vital funds and we’re thrilled that Pinhay House Care Home staff have risen to the challenge in such a big way.”
Care supervisor Kara added: “We’ve been in lockdown since March with only ‘window visits’ by family members allowed, so it’s been a strange and stressful time for everyone.
“Luckily, we’ve been completely coronavirus free, but it’s heartbreaking when residents just can’t understand why their family can come to the window, but can’t enter the home to be with them.
“The Memory Walk has given staff and residents alike a different focus and some fun, and we’ve become quite competitive – especially as one of our resident’s daughters has offered a prize of a stay in her villa in Spain to the member of staff who walks the furthest.
“The residents have been cheering us all on and have enjoyed some of the banter that’s been going on among staff.”
The charity says there’s still time for people to organise their own Santander-sponsored Memory Walk. Many people have arranged walks on 20 September, the day before World Alzheimer’s Day, but events can take place any time between now and October.
Marion added: “We need as many people as possible to take part. Money raised will help Alzheimer’s Society reach more people affected by dementia through services such as Alzheimer’s Society’s Dementia Connect support line, so they don’t have to face these challenging times alone.
“It’s free to sign up online, and you’ll find plenty of support on offer there to organise your own walk.
“You can choose a time and a place to walk– from lapping your garden or your local park to revisiting somewhere special that holds special memories for you and your loved ones. You can walk alone, with a four-legged friend, members of your household or another household – in line with latest government guidelines.
“Sign up now at memorywalk.org.uk and with every step, you’ll help change the lives of people affected by dementia.”
To sponsor the staff at Pinhay House Care Home visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/pinhay-house-care-home