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A K9 9K charity walk for dogs is happening in Sefton Park

12 months ago

A K9 9K charity walk for dogs is happening in Sefton Park
Sunflowers K9 9K at Sefton Park

The four-legged friends’ walk is raising funds for a Liverpool centre which supports people living with cancer and other long-term health conditions.

Good boys and girls will be going walkies for a great cause this weekend in a K9 9K charity dog walk around Sefton Park.

Liverpool Sunflowers in Aigburth helps well over 1,000 people a month from across the region through a programme of wellbeing sessions, counselling and support groups.

With no funding from the NHS, it relies totally on money raised through donations from local trusts, supporters and businesses – and from events like the K9 9K.

On Sunday morning dog owners will be bringing their park-loving pups along to take part in a 9k in aid of the centre.

Charity manager Bobby Magee says it’s not just a fun event, it’s a great opportunity to get together and chat along the route as well as raising vital funds.

“Often, if someone is living with cancer or a long-term health condition, their dog is their best friend so the walk fits in nicely with what we do,” he adds.

“While they’re walking their dogs, people might meet someone else who has the same shared experience so it’s also a good way to chat and get that support informally.”

Sunflowers K9 9K at Sefton Park
Sunflowers K9 9K at Sefton Park

This will be Sunflowers third K9 9K – the first was held in February 2018 to celebrate the Chinese Year of the Dog, and another took place a year later, raising around £2,500.

The walks had to stop during Covid, so this will be the first one since then and Bobby says now they’ve moved it into the summer they’re hoping to double their previous fundraising target.

“Because it’s a 9k walk, with the option of a 5k short-cut for anyone who prefers that, it’s a very achievable challenge. It’s not like running a 5k or a 10k, it’s just an extension of something dog owners would probably be doing anyway, but this way they’re raising money at the same time.

“When we started, it was mostly people who come to the centre and their friends and family joining in, but it’s organically grown so this year we’ve got a lot of people who’ve never been to the centre too which is really nice.”

Bobby says it’s been a particularly busy time for Sunflowers post-Covid, with demand for their services rising all the time.

Sunflowers K9 9K at Sefton Park
Sunflowers K9 9K at Sefton Park

“In 2018 we changed our USP to all long-term conditions so not just cancer, and the services we offer are for the person and their family. After lockdown we’ve had a lot of people living with anxiety, and we’re seeing more people with chronic pain, so we’ve become more of a community wellbeing hub now.

“We’re currently taking 50 referrals a month from the NHS for counselling, and we get a lot of referrals from GPs for our yoga classes because more doctors are suggesting alternative treatment rather than prescribing medication. 

“We have about 1,200 people coming through the centre every month, doing different types of pilates, yoga, and tai chi classes, including pain management and flexibility, and weight management. We also have a cancer support group which about 50 people come along to each week and around 120 counselling appointments every week.”

Although it’s based in south Liverpool, Sunflowers has people coming from as far as Skelmersdale, Aintree and Wirral.

With the weather looking sunny on Sunday for the K9 9K, they’ve decided to open registration at 8am, then people can choose to walk early with their dogs before it heats up.

Registration is at the centre on Aigburth Road and it’s £10 entry fee for the doggy participant and their human. The walk will set off from Sunflowers, heading down through the Festival Gardens to Otterspool Prom, and back up Jericho Lane for a loop around Sefton Park then down Lark Lane and back to the centre – with plenty of water bowl stops along the way!

For more on the K9 9K at Sefton Park click here.

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