Marion Shoard | Writer : Broadcaster : Speaker

Thought for the Day

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Thought for the Day by Marion Shoard, given on BBC Radio Kent’s The Sunday Programme, 7th October, 2018

This morning, many people find themselves effectively imprisoned through no fault of their own.  These are elderly people prevented from stepping out into the autumn sunshine by arthritis, Parkinson’s disease, a stroke or dementia. Or simply because they no longer have the energy to walk. Or perhaps they find themselves installed in a care home whose over-burdened staff haven’t the time to push their wheelchairs into the garden. You might think they’re too old to care.  Yet 90 per cent of older people interviewed by researchers in a recent study said getting outdoors was “very important” for them. As one put it, “It’s a psychological thing about escaping from the flat. I get cabin fever, and a load comes off my mind when I go out.” 

Today promises to be one of the last warm and welcoming days this year. Is there someone you know who can’t get out and about easily and who might enjoy a trip into the outdoors? Perhaps to a wood, or up on the downs, to a National Trust property or for a stroll perhaps along The Leas in Folkestone or in Shorne Woods Country Park near Rochester? These days such places are easier to access than they used to be for people who can’t walk easily, with ramps, lifts and disabled-friendly toilets. Broadstairs beach even sports a walkway across the sands – ideal for mobility aids like wheelchairs.

Jesus singled out prison visiting as a particularly commendable practice. “I was in prison and you came to visit me”, He said, explaining that visiting someone behind bars was like visiting Him.

Those who’re imprisoned, like Jesus, by circumstance rather than misdeed are surely no less deserving of our support than their criminal counterparts. But let’s not just give them a visit. Let’s take them out of the places in which they’re condemned to spend all too much of their time. In the process, we can often take them out of themselves. The Garden of England awaits. Its glories will reward them and us.  



OPENspace Research Centre, School of Art, Edinburgh ‘How does the Outdoor Environment Affect Older People’s Quality of Life?’ in Experiences of Outdoor Environments