Ruth and Ageing Well Midlothian

18 October 2013

Ruth Simpson, a Volunteer Walk Leader for over ten years, shares her experience.

Ruth, walk leaderAs a retired professional in the health care service, I have always believed that prevention is better than cure not only for others but for me too. I think what keeps me going is my nursing background and caring for people. Even though I have retired I feel it is natural to continue the ethos of care.

The high point of leading Health Walks is enjoying the beautiful countryside and the friendships that flourish from walking and chatting together each week.

The lows have to be losing track of friends who suddenly stop appearing each week either due to ill health or for some other reasons. Some of these people were isolated lonely people who embraced the weekly walk and chat, and it is sad for whatever reason they have to give up as they lose that important contact with others.

I think you have to be very prepared each week for leading a walk with older people to ensure the route has no hazards such as slips and trips with fallen branches, leaves and the routes can change from day to day depending on the weather.

Walking makes such a difference to our entire group especially those who are older and less mobile. They all know how important it is to stay active and walking in a group is not only social, which is important for a lot of older people living alone but it also gives them confidence to walk in places they wouldn’t do on their own.

Volunteering has changed my life a lot and I would recommend it to everyone. It has got me out and exercising on a regular basis, and given me a chance to meet people. It’s also lovely to watch the friendships growing within the group, and hear about their days out together which shows we are making a difference.

“I heard about the walks through the local town crier magazine and I have been walking for 5 years now. It has made a brilliant difference to my social, mental and physical abilities. The best thing about the group is we go walking in places you wouldn’t go by yourself. I would tell others to just come along and give it a go. The Volunteer Walk Leaders are just brilliant. Walking has changed my life as I feel much fitter” - A walker from the Midlothian Ageing Well Project