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RSPB St Aidan's Nature Park and RSPB Fairburn Ings Nature Reserve

RSPB St Aidan's is a nature park on the outskirts of Leeds, it has been ‘reclaimed’ from it’s industrial past as an open cast mine. There are many miles of wonderful walks around the site, including an easily accessible one-mile route along a level path near to our visitor centre, where members of the public can buy light refreshments and sit down with a lovely view over the site. RSPB Fairburn Ings is a little further out, on the outskirts of Castleford. It is also an ex mining site - many of our ponds have resulted from the collapse of underground mining works and the old coal tips now provide a superb area for wildlife, along fully wheelchair accessible paths. There is a visitor centre and shop, where light refreshments and snacks can be purchased and the seating area overlooks one of our bird feeding areas. Both sites have accessible toilet facilities. The parks are open to all and we are working to become more dementia friendly. We run monthly 'Wellbeing Walks' at both sites: Short, sociable walks to help people to enjoy a walk in nature in a safe way. The walks are accompanied by Volunteer Rangers, last for about an hour and are no more than 1 mile, but can be adapted in length and pace to suit whoever attends. We follow a level path, and the walks are free to all. St Aidan's walks are on the last Wednesday of every month and Fairburn the second Thursday. Both start at 11am, from the Visitor Centres. We are aiming for all staff and volunteers at both sites to attend a Dementia Awareness session and become dementia friends and are progressing with this.

4 December 2019
Yorkshire and Humber
Other, Recreation, Voluntary, Voluntary Sector
Local Alliances:
Leeds Dementia Action Alliance

1. Action Plan

1. The National Dementia Declaration lists seven outcomes that the DAA are seeking to achieve for people with dementia and their carers. How would you describe your organisation’s role in delivering better outcomes for people with dementia and their carers?

Locally, we are aiming to make our reserves a place where people with dementia feel welcomed and secure, where they can enjoy the benefits of being outdoors in a lovely environment. There are added benefits of being in nature, experiencing it's sights, sounds and smells, as well as the physical and mental benefits associated with this. The walks are accompanied by specific Volunteer Rangers, who have a greater awareness of the needs of people with dementia, both from attending awareness sessions and in many cases, from personal and past professional experience. Our sites both have a history as mining sites. We know that many local people used to work within the mining industry and a trip to our reserves can often bring back many memories of this and enables them to talk about these experiences. We aim to make sure that St Aidan's and Fairburn sit as a part of their local communities, including where these are Dementia Friendly Communities.We hope that as many staff and volunteers as possible will undertake Dementia Awareness sessions.

2. What are the challenges to delivering these outcomes from the perspective of your organisation?

We have a large number of volunteers, ensuring that all undertake the dementia awareness sessions is a challenge. We are a charity, so have no additional resource for this.

2. Actions

  • Wellbeing Walks

    We established monthly 'Wellbeing Walks' at St Aidan's, aimed at older people including those living with dementia, in July 2018. These are now well established with an average of 20 people attending no matter the weather. We started the walks in partnership with Rothwell Live at Home, who are still actively involved, and we advertise our walks in local cafe's and libraries, parish churches, the Rothwell Tea Cosy Cafe, local GP surgeries, with Leeds Connect for Health and with other older peoples oranisations locally. We recently undertook a very brief review of the walks with people attending. Levels of satisfaction are very high, people particularly value the sociable nature of the walks, as well as the opportunity to be outside, and the fact that our volunteer rangers accompany all walks, ensuring everyone, no matter their level of ability, has a feeling of security as they walk. This summer we introduced a second walk at Fairburn Ings, modelled on the St Aidan's walk, this gives a wider number of people access to a walk, as well as offering a second walk every month for some of our walkers. This walk is still under development.

  • Dementia Awareness

    We have held a number dementia awareness sessions which have been attended by around 25 staff and volunteers. We are planning to continue to offer these sessions and aim to try to get as many of our staff and volunteers as possible to attend a session in the future. 

  • Dementia Friendly environment

    As we develop we will try to ensure that the environment of our Visitor Centres and surroundings are as dementia friendly as possible. 

  • Spreading the word

    We now offer Wellbeing Walks at both our sites, St Aidan's and Fairburn Ings, widening their accesibility.