Memory Lane: The Project begins

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Regular readers of this Blog may recall that earlier in the year, Christine Moulton talked to me about a proposed new venture based at Trimley’s Trinity Methodist Church. Using the “Memory Lane” model which operates in Felixstowe, it would offer Dementia sufferers and their Carers an opportunity to socialise in an informal and friendly setting. In August a letter arrived, letting me know the starting date for Trimley’s own ‘Memory’ project. It was fixed for Tuesday 10th September and thereafter all second Tuesdays in the month.  When the date arrived this week, I found myself stepping out into the afternoon and walking to the Methodist Church for the inaugural meeting. I was keen to see theory being put into practice.

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During the course of the conversation I had with Christine earlier this year, she had pointed out,

“..it is people who are needed to make the whole thing work. Volunteers are required to make simple refreshments such as tea and coffee. More people are needed who are willing to socialise and chat with the visitors.”

 I arrived at the church to discover about a dozen or so volunteers had already arrived; the building was alive with their animated conversation. They were more than ready to chat and socialise; like sunflowers, their faces radiated good will. The Church building lends itself to relaxed social events, containing as it does, a seated area and kitchen as well as a large open hall adjacent to the area of worship.  Such was the level of the enthusiastic discussion taking place, it was hard to distinguish individual voices. But as I acclimatised to the conversations, I found the opportunity to talk to some of the volunteers, many of whom came from Trimley.

Two of those present had been inspired to help after first hearing about the scheme at the Parish Meeting. Rosemary Gitsham, who was one of the first to greet me, was probably the first to volunteer, motivated by her innate sense of helping other people. The other, Heather Rodwell, had gone home after hearing about the initiative and enthused sufficiently to her family with the result her daughters had also volunteered to contribute and was accompanied by one of them, Vicky Moran.  Lin Stewart who was responsible for delivering refreshments, has no personal experience of friends or family with dementia but like the others is always ready to help people.

I spoke to Sue Edmonds, who is a Volunteer, Coordinator and Treasurer of Felixstowe’s ‘Memory Lane”. Her career experience encompasses working with the deaf and she is a fluent in Sign Language.  She has also had experience of dementia  as three of her family members had been sufferers of the illness. Originally the Felixstowe group set out with four members but this has now grown to thirty six. Sue has observed the positive benefits of the initiative in both clients and carers. As it has established itself the Felixstowe Group has grown not only in numbers but also in the range of activities. They have craft sessions, speakers and music, including a Ukelele Band. Her experience is always to work around what the clients want to do. Sue was joined by Jan Gregory who is a Sue Ryder Dementia Navigator and is responsible for the area between Felixstowe, Framlingham and Walberswick. Jan however, spends  a considerable time in Felixstowe.

Sarah Mace, who works in the kitchen at Goslings, brought her mother. She is the prime Carer for her mother, Margaret Taylor and has been responsible for looking after her for more than two and a half years. Sarah was impressed by the event and enthusiastically declared she will definitely return. It provides a welcome break for both mother and daughter and is an additional event in her mother’s a varied social life.  A range of activities presented themselves from jigsaws, puzzles to Draughts and simple word searches and indeed, two of the volunteers had started a jigsaw.

I was struck by the immense good humour of the occasion and the willingness of all the volunteers. Christine had stressed the importance of socialisation, best exemplified by the opportunity to provide conversational chit chat. It is easy to forget the importance of communication. Dementia sufferers may not always be able to articulate exactly what they are thinking but part of respecting and valuing people centres around recognising the necessity to remain part of Society. In this instance it was a three way process between clients, carers and volunteers and it would be difficult to say who enjoyed it more.

At the end of the session, I walked home with Rosemary, who easily outpaced me in her motorised chariot. Her closing comment summarised the occasion,

“Well, that was a stimulating afternoon…”

and so it was for us all.

 

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Note to any Carers:

The next Memory Lane Meeting will be on:

8th October 2019 at 2.00 p.m.

Trimley Methodist Church

You and the person you care for will receive a warm welcome.

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Rosemary Gitsham, Volunteer

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Rhonda Chamberlain, Volunteer

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From left to right: Vicky Moran and Lin Stewart, Volunteers and Sue Edmunds, Felixstowe Memory Lane Volunteer and Co-ordinator.

 

If you have any comments or would like to be part of the Trimley St. Martin Recorder’s project, please contact me at:

trimleystmartinrecorder@gmail.com

LR  13/09/2019

 

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