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Parson Cross Forum Online Memory Cafe events prove a success story

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Wednesday Lunch Club at Parson Cross Forum before lockdown (credit: Facebook)

Parson Cross Forum is a community hub organisation based in Sheffield, providing support for people living with dementia and Alzheimer's. The forum offers a wide range of activities, training courses and events, funded by the National Lottery, People Keeping Well and public donations.

Parson Cross Forum hold a Memory Cafe three days a week, from 9.30am-11.30am, for people with early to mid-stage dementia and their carers, who also benefit from the peer support provided.

In the first part of the session members can - in normal circumstances - communicate in person and have open conversations over breakfast. Following this, participants are invited to join in with free activities like bingo, arts and crafts, and performances from singers, entertainers and comedians.

"The main part of these sessions is music. For a lot of elderly people this is an opportunity to reminisce about their younger days, when they used to go dancing with their partners - partners that may no longer be with us," says Louise Askew from Parson Cross Forum.

Since the Covid-19 outbreak, the Forum have had to adapt the way they operate by taking their services online. Louise and the volunteers managed to get the online service up and running just three days after the start of lockdown and they are now holding weekly Memory Cafes and keeping in contact with members of the forum.

This is a part of their routine, so it was important to keep it at the same time as before. We wanted to make it easier for them to remember.

These meetings are a valuable tool for communication, although some struggle with getting online and navigating the technology. The team have worked for hours with many members in order to help them use the software and take part in the events. They are also delivering activity parcels to each individual, containing resources to be used during the Memory Café sessions, or to provide them with alternate activities if for whatever reason they can't get online.

We are delivering around 30 to 40 parcels each time - following social distancing rules, of course. The benefit of making contact and checking on each person really outweighs the wealth of time we spend delivering.

The Parson Cross Forum are requesting donations which can be made through their JustGiving page, as this time is proving challenging to the Forum and its income.

If you know anybody who could benefit from the service, get in touch with Louise and the team for more information on what they can do to help.

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