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Dementia-friendly cafe receives enough funding to open in Dartford church

PUBLISHED: 15:58 26 April 2017 | UPDATED: 10:30 28 April 2017

The cafe will run monthly

The cafe will run monthly

(c) Stockbyte

The Dementia Cafe at St Edmund's Chrch was awarded £500 from charity Bluebird Care

A dementia-friendly cafe is being set up in a Dartford church with funding received from a community grant.

The Dementia Cafe at St Edmund’s Church was awarded £500 from care provider Bluebird Care to help set up and run the project. It has also received funding from department store chain Marks and Spencers, who even plan to allow their staff a day out of work each month to volunteer at the project.

The cafe, which will be run by the anna chaplins of the Diocese of Rochester, aims to bring together those who are struggling to cope with caring for a loved one through offering respite and support, as well as equipping them with up-to-date information to help them provide better care.

Anna chaplins are people trained by the Bible Reading Fellowship in supporting and offering companionship to elderly people.

The funding was applied for by anna chaplin John Tootell because he wanted to start a dementia friendly cafe with a difference - “putting the fun back in the lives of people with dementia”.

Before becoming an anna chaplin and dementia champion, Mr Tootell was an electrician, but it was his own family’s experience with the illness that inspired him to change his job. The impact of dementia was felt when his mother-in-law, and two friends were dealt the devastating diagnosis.

The grant will be spent on purchasing a variety of tabletop games, ranging from tiddlywinks to chess, as well as organising and promoting the monthly events in the local community.

It will also be used to hire a minibus to provide transport to and from the cafe for member of the communtiy without alternative means.

Mr Tootell said: “As with the rest of your body, it is important to keep your brain fit. Board games take people living with dementia back to their childhood and it is also a way of focussing on something that is strategic, or keepnig the brain active, which can help to slow the progression of dementia.

“I’m also planning to open another dementia cafe in Gravesend in a few weeks.”

Siobhan Gourney, care manager at Bluebird Care Gravesham and Dartford, said: “Dementia is not always distressing - it can be positive and you can live well.

“Supporting as a group helps to continue respecting people for who they are and also remembering that they have life experience - not just seeing the disease.

“Respect is very important and it helps with isolation and also to know that families and people living with dementia are not alone in their experience.”

David Mote, Greenhithe councillor, said: “People with dementia can become invisible in society and get lost in the detail of day to day life, However, they are a growing part of society and history has not treated people with dementia well. The illness is now becoming mainstream and more people are aware of or have the disease. It is therefore more relevant to society.

“My advice to people struggling to care for a loved on living with dementia is don’t be embarrassed. It is part of the cycle of life and important to find out more. There are people who want to help and there can be some issues and challenges, however, it is possible to live well with dementia.”

For more information on signing up to the cafe, call the Healthy Living Centre, Dartford on 01322 311 265.

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