Harleston one step closer to becoming Dementia friendly after lottery grant

Hands on the memory books at the first Harleston and District Dementia Friendly Community Cafe. PICT

Hands on the memory books at the first Harleston and District Dementia Friendly Community Cafe. PICTURE: Denise Bradley - Credit: Archant

Years of work to create a dementia-friendly community have come to a head has a dementia cafe has been awarded a grant from The National Lottery.

The first Harleston and District Dementia Friendly Community Cafe opened in April 2017. PICTURE: Den

The first Harleston and District Dementia Friendly Community Cafe opened in April 2017. PICTURE: Denise Bradley - Credit: Archant

For nearly three years, residents in Harleston have been working to make the area friendlier for people living with dementia.

Now, the town has been awarded £1,000 from the National Lottery to fund its services.

In April earlier this year, the district opened its first dementia cafe at the Swan Hotel, on the third Thursday of every month. The cafe offers entertainment and afternoon tea for free.

Pat Simmonds, chairman of Harleston and District Dementia Friendly Community and Cafe, said: 'I worked out how much the dementia cafe was going to cost for a year, for the hiring of the room and out-goings, and I came up with the £1,000.

Reg and Hazel Booker take a look at memory books from the 50s at the opening of the first Harleston

Reg and Hazel Booker take a look at memory books from the 50s at the opening of the first Harleston and District Dementia Friendly Community Cafe. PICTURE: Denise Bradley - Credit: Archant


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'That gives us the peace of mind that we are covered and can continue running. We have been lucky with sponsorships but we can't keep asking for more money,'

The group has been offering dementia training to businesses and hosting dementia friends sessions in the surrounding villages before setting up the cafe.

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Mrs Simmonds said: 'We have been running the cafe and it has been really good. It has been lovely - one lady was enjoying a Frank Sinatra performance and she stood up, almost in tears because it took her back to the 1950s when she met her husband while out dancing in Norwich.'

With the extra funding, Harleston Dementia Friends is hoping to grow and start offering lunches and help other villages to open cafes.

Mrs Simmonds added: 'It is not always easy for people with dementia to go into a cafe or restaurant because of their eating habits. They also may not be having a good day.'

The group has been a staple at fairs with cakes stands to raise funds, but now it is thinking bigger.

She added: 'We have not got a name for it yet but we will be hosting a rock and roll fun day in Pulham Market Green with classic cars and music.'

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