- July 13, 2018
Memory Lane Cafe has been running in Sowerby Bridg...
Memory Lane Cafe Calderdale Our Story
Memory Lane Cafe Calderdale is a voluntary community group which runs dementia-friendly cafes in Sowerby Bridge and Halifax and promotes dementia-friendliness in our communities. The group was the inspiration of June Harvey who identified the need for a dementia-friendly meeting-place in Sowerby Bridge and, crucially, at weekends (when few other options are available).
The group was formed in January 2016 and, through hard work and great support from all over the community, our Sowerby Bridge cafe opened at the end of February 2016 (meeting on two Saturday afternoons per month).
In 2017 we were approached by Alzheimer’s Society to take over their “Daffodil Cafe” slot which had been running for several years in Halifax. After investigation and consideration we took on this additional cafe on two Wednesday afternoons per month and it is now “Memory Lane Cafe Halifax”.
Our group is managed by a committee of local people and the cafes are run by our team of volunteers (which includes committee members) who each bring their own skills and enthusiasm to the cafe. We currently have around 15 individuals who regularly volunteer at one or both of the cafes. In addition, we have built relationships with a variety of other local groups and organisations all of which have helped us to grow and develop.
In June 2018 we became a Registered Charity (reg no 1178595) and we also achieved Quality for Health Foundation Level certification.
Description of our services
Our dementia-friendly cafe offers socialisation, information and a range of activities for visitors. We provide various games ranging from a table quiz and jigsaws to boules and table tennis. Often we have entertainment (such as singers to join in with) and we are always keen to help visitors celebrate events (such as birthdays). Outside cafe hours, we organise group trips to concerts and places of interest. As part of our service, we have a library of information about relevant services and we regularly invite professional services to come to the cafes to provide information and support to our members.
As a dementia-friendly space, we welcome people affected in any way by dementia, other forms of memory loss and social isolation. This inclusive approach generates a vibrant and supportive mix of individuals at the cafe and we see informal peer-support groups developing (e.g. between the unpaid partner-carers of people with dementia). Isolation, whether caused through a diagnosis of dementia or because of the demands of caring for someone with that diagnosis is a key target for us. There are also people isolated for other reasons (mental health, rural location etc) who benefit from the social activities at the cafe. In essence, we are tackling the isolation that dementia brings (and the isolation that may bring dementia).
Our visitor numbers have grown over time. We now see an average of 25 visitors at each Sowerby Bridge cafe and an average of 30 at each Halifax cafe. Visitors come not only from various parts of Calderdale but also Kirklees and Bradford. We have developed transport options (using the AccessBus, Community Transport, and the Maurice Jagger Centre minibus) to encourage and enable people to attend cafes.
Working together with others
We encourage other organisations to come along to provide advice and information at the cafes. We visit other groups to support their activities (as well as to advertise our services and obtain experience of what they offer so that we can recommend to our members). We have an information library available at each cafe and we signpost and refer people to other services. Our flyers, posters and newsletters are made available to health and social care services, libraries etc.
We regularly work with other groups to organise a variety of events and activities. In June 2018 we, along with Age UK, Alzheimer’s Society, Bluebird Care, Calderdale Carers and Staying Well hosted a Carers Event to support and entertain carers during Carers Week.
We are part of the newly-formed (2018) Dementia Friendly Sowerby Bridge group – this aims to make the town more understanding and accepting of dementia, and to improve the day-to-day experience of people living with dementia.
We are flattered to have been asked for advice on setting up dementia-friendly cafes and have been able to help the development of the Riverside Cafe in Ripponden, Magic Moments Cafe at Beech Hill School, and Angels Corner Cafe at High Road Well. From this experience we have devised a checklist of things for people to consider when planning a new cafe. We regularly attend local fairs, galas etc with our bright yellow gazebo to raise awareness of what we do (and dementia support services in general) and also to raise funds to ensure that we can continue and develop.
How we make ends meet
When we first began thinking about setting up Memory Lane Cafe in early 2016 we were determined to ensure that we would have a long-term future. We did not want to have to rely on external grants or fundraising for our day-to-day operations so we decided to make a small admission charge for our cafes. This was set at £2 per person (and remains at £2). Together with a raffle at every cafe, this income covers our rent, refreshments and cafe activities. This gives us, and our members, confidence that we can continue into the future. We also raise money through attending fairs and galas and we have a number of very generous “Friends of Memory Lane Cafe” who have each committed to give us money every month. With this income we are able to invest in new equipment and provide additional services such as entertainers, trips etc.
We have received lots of nice comments from many of our members over the last two years such as:-
“I think everyone at Memory Lane is wonderful – you are so helpful and XXXX and I enjoy everyone’s company”
Lovely group with lots going on. Friendly helpful volunteers”
“There seems to be something for everyone”
“A friendly lot of people”
In June 2018, we achieved Quality For Health accreditation and, as part of the assessment process, a number of our members were interviewed by the assessor who independently recorded the following comments:-
“Improves the way I feel – my mental health”
“[Memory Lane] have been of tremendous help to me personally and with all the advice and encouragement they have given me”
“Something money can’t buy”