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Restarting the Dementia? Welcome! Café

As part of SOAR's Dementia contract with People Keeping Well, we work with some fantastic organisations to deliver local, friendly dementia support groups for our communities. One of these groups is the Dementia? Welcome! Café held at The Furnival.

Unfortunately the group has been paused due to the pandemic, but they've been getting ready to restart the sessions again! Read on to hear all about what they've been up to and how they're getting the café running again.

In-person Café activity was suspended after the session of March 11 2020 because of Covid. There was a limited exploration of using digital means to connect with some of those who had come, and to link with volunteers.

During this period, NE Sheffield Dementia Friendly Zoom meetings set up by Rosie (SOAR) brought together all the groups in the area, and kept everyone in touch, and the flame alive. Being able to share stories and ideas with others was extremely supportive. Similar support came from Voluntary Action Sheffield and Sheffield Council. New collaborations with other community groups, Primary Care and local schools in response to Covid has been inspiring.

By May 2021, work began to restart the Christ Church Pitsmoor Lunch Club as the Covid restrictions began to ease. As members lived mainly in their own homes, the level of risk was lower than at the Dementia? Welcome! Café, so it seemed appropriate to concentrate on restarting this first. It was a surprise to find how much work is involved in re-starting a community activity!

The Lunch Club finally restarted on September 16th, and we met in November to talk specifically about restarting the Café. Critically, Rosie (SOAR) and Corrine (SACMHA) would be available and willing to ‘stand in’ as regular volunteers for a few weeks, so that new potential volunteers could come and join in with the Café, and possibly stay.

We planned an initial trial run event for Dec 1st followed by a Christmas event on Dec 8th, then a restart of the weekly Dementia? Welcome! Cafe from Jan 12th, subject to Covid restrictions, weather, etc.

On Dec 1st, we had a lively morning, making some Christmas decoration tissue paper stars, talking about football, cricket and memories of first days at the Flower Estate and playing catch with a soft ball. It felt very much like home; as if we had never been away.

On Dec 8th, we pulled crackers, then shared biscuits, cakes and trifles. Liz from Voluntary Action Sheffield brought an old Girls Annual from the 1950s and sat with a member who remembered it. We made colourful tissue paper baubles, and twisted strings of coloured tissue paper, to decorate paper Christmas Trees on one of the walls of the room. A young woman and her toddler son dropped in looking for the Creative English classes and stayed briefly to play. There was some dancing to the Christmas pop hits CD.

We all had turkey/cranberry/stuffing sandwiches provided by Norbury Court and then a few rounds of Bingo. It is lovely to be back.

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