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Arts initiative offers dementia patients lifeline

Rick Middleton from More Music, front left, and Angela Norris from Age UK Lancashire, front right, with guests at the November 18 Journey Cafe event.

Rick Middleton from More Music, front left, and Angela Norris from Age UK Lancashire, front right, with guests at the November 18 Journey Cafe event.

“Sometimes it’s difficult to go out because it’s hard to make conversations but here everyone is in the same boat and you don’t feel awkward.”

Val Hayes and her husband Jack have just enjoyed a screening of a classic George Formby film at The Dukes cinema in Lancaster.

Films are a feature of a pioneering project – Journeying Together - which The Dukes and Age UK Lancashire have worked on since 2012 as part of a national drive towards creating dementia friendly communities.

And their efforts haven’t gone unnoticed.

The project reached the national finals of the Ageing Well Challenge and has received funding from the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation.

But most importantly, the scheme has received praise from those who benefit from it - older people with memory problems, their relatives and friends.

Mrs Hayes continued: “All the facilities are there for you and we’ve found everything top notch. We’ve never felt uncomfortable or out of place. It’s nice that there are things like this going on. You don’t feel as isolated.’

Research has shown that people with dementia and their relatives often struggle to find opportunities to socialise and worry that they won’t be welcome in public places.

Journeying Together events, such as the Journey Café, provide access to the arts and entertainment in a comfortable welcoming environment.

They are open to everyone but some changes are made to lighting and sound to ensure that people with dementia and their families feel particularly comfortable.

Other people who enjoyed the Journey Café and George Formby film were Pat Craig and her husband, Ian.

Pat said: “It was a lovely afternoon and it was so nice to laugh, because so often people don’t know what to say to you, so to just sit there and let yourself go was lovely.”

Pat and Ian also enjoyed relieving their wartime memories with agricultural historian John Higginson who brought some memorabilia to the event.

 

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