It’s Dementia Awareness Week this week, so we've been chatting to the awesome team at Reminiscence Learning – a small charity based in Wellington, who specialise in dementia, reminiscence activities (focusing on memories and recollections) and life story work.
They’ve always caught our eye with the unique ideas they have to raise awareness of dementia and to bring younger and older people together... so we found out a little bit more about them and how they're marking this week, in Somerset. Here are the team’s Four Thoughts, as part of our community stories this month:
1. Can you tell us a little bit about Reminiscence Learning?
We create and run community projects for the older person, those with dementia and their carers and those who feel lonely and isolated in the community. We run everything from ‘Music and Memories’ with live performances from local musicians, to themed reminiscence sessions.
We also created and deliver the multi award winning intergenerational dementia awareness ‘Archie Project’. This connects primary schools, care homes, sheltered housing schemes, businesses/services and community members to reduce the fear and stigma often associated with dementia and ultimately creates more dementia friendly communities. We believe that by engaging with children at a young age, we can dispell the fear of dementia and change attitudes for the future.
The focal point of the project is a book, telling the story of a scarecrow called Archie who has a dementia (Alzheimer’s disease). The story uses the idea of colour being drained from Archie when he is in a state of ill being, feeling unloved and invisible in his community… to a gradual return of colour when he is included, in a state of well being, loved and being treated no differently to his friends. It’s a simple concept but one that both adults and children can relate to.
We also deliver training for healthcare professionals, family carers, volunteers, businesses and services.
2. This week is Dementia Awareness Week. Can you share some of the things you’ve been up to?
National Dementia Awareness Week this year has been incredibly busy for the team. It all started with red and yellow themed (the last colours to go in the ageing eye) singing and cycling in the centre of Wellington. It was really well received by the lovely people of Wellington and we raised a fabulous £274.33 which will go towards our new Memory Cafe, opening on the 6th July. We'll be running this fortnightly from 2-4pm at our HQ, so that people can drop in, have tea, cake and a chat.
During this week, we’ve delivered dementia awareness sessions for a variety of organisations, from Wellington Brownies to Mr Miles Tea Room, and had some fantastic community group activities - with Red and Yellow themed ‘Fitness for Fun’ and ‘Singing with Friends’.
For us, the week culminates with the creation of our Giant Dementia Awareness Jigsaw - today (Friday May 19th) at the Orchard Centre in Taunton. Over 80 local organisations have signed up and have been (or will be) organising something in their workplace to raise funds for us. There are sponsored walks, dress down days, cake sales, swear boxes……you name it, people are doing it! :)
At noon, representatives from these organisations will meet in the Orchard Centre to create the huge and very colourful dementia awareness message, with the first piece being placed by the Worshipful Mayor of Taunton Deane - Cllr Hazel Prior-Salkey. Here's what they'll be completing :)
There’ll also be a Reminiscence Learning stand - and both the jigsaw and our team will be in the Orchard Centre all weekend to answer any questions and provide information.
3. How can people get involved with your charity?
If you’re affected in some way by dementia and would like to know more about either our community projects or training, you can contact the team on firstname.lastname@example.org or on 01823 668676.
Also, we’re always looking for volunteers to help with community sessions, bake cakes, help organise our huge library of resources and to help with our innovative and exciting fundraising events. Just give us a shout to find out a bit more.
4. Tell us a secret about Reminiscence Learning that no-one else knows!
The charity didn’t even have a computer for the first 4 years… and Fiona, our CEO, always has a stash of dark chocolate cranberries hidden in her top drawer! :)
Love those secrets... and the amazing ideas Reminiscence Learning has to bring our communities closer together and to raise awareness of dementia. Good luck in Taunton today – and if you’re in the area, pop by, say hello and give your support - and their Memory Cafe will be open from July 6th in Wellington.