Line-dancing online proves to be a lockdown lifeline for old folk in Wetherby

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

Thursday, 10th December 2020, 6:00 am

Julie Clarkson, from Churwell, who has been line-dancing for years, had been delivering weekly exercise classes for registered charity, 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.

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 in a bid to tackle isolation and loneliness.

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.

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Line dancing teacher Julie Clarkson with some of her line-dancing group.

“WiSE 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.”

Many of the group members were struggling with lockdown, isolation and needed something to look forward to.

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.”

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