Walking into isolation while learning of invaluable services

David Beeby – 18th September 2019

We started the day in Keswick at Citizens Advice where we met Mandy Beinder. She is a great advocate for the importance of their work and the key role of volunteers. What they offer is an absolutely vital service to the community, providing quality advice across many topics with the two key areas being benefits and debt. I suspect most people don’t realise that each Citizens Advice is an independent charity that has to raise its own funds. As a result, in certain areas of the country, Citizens Advice have now closed down. This is really bad for those communities and must not be allowed to happen in Cumbria. I’m proud to say that Cumbria Community Foundation has supported this vital service since 2006, awarding almost £270,000 in grants.

Based in Workington, Citizens Advice Allerdale also offer an outreach office in Keswick on a Monday. They are in the process of relocating their service into the Keswick library where consultations will be by appointment only.

We then set off up towards Skiddaw for our overnight stay in Skiddaw House. A beautifully isolated traditional walkers hostel, which is off grid and therefore has no mobile signal. A rare and valuable experience these days. Cumbria Community Foundation has also supported the Skiddaw House Foundation in helping to make the House more self sufficient.

The second day we set out for Caldbeck. Very peaceful walking in this quite isolated area. Dropping down in to the top end of Mosedale valley before climbing up to High Pike where we met up with Tim, a fellow Trustee, and Anne Cartmell. A dramatic change in scenery as we started walking across Caldbeck Common. Much softer, rolling countryside.

We met up with the Northern Fells Group In Caldbeck. They have been going for about 20 years. While they have broadened their activities over the years there is still a key focus around addressing rural social isolation and poverty in the areas of the Northern Fells. Through their great network of local agents they really can identify need and opportunity and do something about it. Their vast number of projects have received over £200,000 in grants since 2004.

In addition to meeting us on the walk, Tim and Anne very kindly put us up for the night in their lovely home which is also a B&B and regularly hosts other walkers. They made us very welcome and are wonderful hosts.

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