Leeds line dancer’s lockdown lifeline for isolated older people praised

A lifelong line dancer from Leeds has been lauded for charity lockdown lessons which have given a vital lifeline to dozens of isolated older people from across the city.

Julie Clarkson, from Churwell, had been delivering weekly exercise classes for Wetherby in Support of the Elderly (WiSE) for two years, before having to suspend face-to-face teaching when the pandemic first took hold in March.

But since then she’s delivered more than 30 online sessions on behalf of the charity, which aims to improve the quality of life for the over 60s by providing community activities, information and support.

Julie said: “Dancing has been a massive part of my life – it is my passion. Up until March, I was holding weekly line dancing classes for WiSE groups and it proved to be really popular. The classes are fun and easy going. Good music and exercise with social interaction is like therapy for physical and mental health. Dancing is also good to help prevent the onset of memory problems and dementia, by having to remember the steps and dance sequences.

“W-iSE members are a lovely, friendly, genuine bunch. I have held a couple of charity social dances there where they have always contributed generously. So unfortunately when Covid came along and it was impossible to hold face to face classes, I decided to try and do weekly online dance videos.

“Even though they are in their own homes, it helps to avoid social isolation and give some kind of normality. They all seem to enjoy it.  I really miss them all and am hoping at some time soon in the future that we will be able to get everyone back dancing together.”

Mark Dobson, Operations Manager at WiSE, said: “Our members have really struggled with lockdown. Many of them were shielding throughout the first wave of coronavirus, and it was so isolating for them.

“Julie’s online sessions have been such a massive success – they’re so thankful for them and always comment with praise. Our thanks go to Julie who has given our members something to look forward to each week in these bleak times.”

Wetherby in Support of the Elderly (WiSE) is a registered charity organisation part funded by Leeds City Council.  Its aim is to improve quality of life for the over 60s by providing community based activities, information, help and support.

To access Julie’s line dancing sessions, visit the charity’s Facebook page (Wetherby in Support of the Elderly), or to donate, visit www.w-ise.org.uk

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