In December 2021, a group of NCS (National Citizen Service) Changemakers, aged 16 and 17 from Craven College and Settle College, took part in a sponsored walk around Skipton. They dressed up in festive fancy dress and played Christmas songs to spread festive cheer.
Despite the poor weather, the team walked a total of 8km and raised a brilliant £170 for Airedale Hospital and Community Charity, the official NHS charity for Airedale NHS Foundation Trust.
Changemakers is a programme run by the NCS which gives young people a chance to make an impact in their local community by taking part in social action projects on things that they’re passionate about.
The group decided to raise funds for Airedale hospital, specifically to help elderly patients and those who are living with dementia. Most of the members were born at Airedale and have elderly relatives that they want to support. They decided to put the funds towards a robotic companion cat for patients on Airedale’s elderly wards.
Robotic companion cats look, feel and sound like real cats and they respond to petting, hugging and motion, much like real ones. The cat will provide comfort and a sense of purpose for people living with dementia. It will help to encourage a sense of empowerment, companionship and enjoyment and in some cases may provoke nurturing and caring memories helping with loneliness and isolation.
Ciara Walsh from Airedale Hospital and Community Charity said:
“We are touched that the team decided to fundraise for a companion cat for our elderly wards. The cats look and act similarly to real cats, so patients find them comforting as they bring back good memories and feelings.
“They should be really proud of themselves; their hard work will make such a difference to our patients.”
Rachel Hildreth, NCS Coordinator at Yorkshire Cricket Foundation, said:
“Despite the cold and wet conditions the group headed out in positive spirits dressed in fancy dress. They did an amazing job spreading cheer and spreading awareness of the cause.
“The members of the group are really passionate about wanting to help make a positive difference to Airedale Hospital particularly for elderly patients. Most of them were born in the hospital and have elderly relatives that they want to support.
“I’m incredibly proud of the group, and they are already talking about planning their next event for Airedale Hospital!”
(Photographed: Members of the NCS Changemakers group and NCS coordinators)