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Sheffield Museums features dementia-friendly cafe at Kelham Island Museum

Cuppa at the Museum allows people with dementia to meet others, avoiding isolation and encouraging reminiscing.

Kelham Island Museum
Ed Webster

More than half (52%) of the UK public know someone who has been diagnosed with dementia and, of the 850,000 people in the UK with the condition, 120,000 live alone. A Sheffield Museums project is tackling the potential isolation that people with dementia face with Cuppa at the Museum, a dementia-friendly café at Kelham Island Museum.

The organisers answered some questions for Now Then.

What gave Sheffield Museums the idea to set up a dementia-friendly cafe?

As an organisation, Sheffield Museums strives to provide a welcoming space for everyone, to engage as many people as possible with Sheffield’s collection and to share stories of the city’s people and history. We held the first dementia-friendly cafes in 2018 after discussions with Dementia Action Alliance and sessions were originally funded by visitor and supporter donations and funding from The Big Give.

The cafés aim to promote access to museums and galleries for people living with dementia and their carers, and to support participants in reminiscence, conversation and to share their stories. As part of this, previous café participants took part in a Talking Objects project where they loaned objects and shared memories, which formed a display at Kelham Island Museum and Weston Park Museum.

Sessions were inevitably paused during the pandemic and we’re pleased to be restarting in May 2022, with sessions planned at Abbeydale Industrial Hamlet, Kelham Island Museum, the Millennium Gallery and Weston Park Museum. The cafes are hosted by staff from our Learning and Participation team as part of our community programme and support Sheffield’s “People Keeping Well” agenda to reduce social isolation and promote health and wellbeing.

What can people expect if they come along?

The cafés are free, drop-in sessions and each session has a new theme and related activities. Participants are welcome to share stories and memories, take part in object handing, have a tour around the museum or gallery with staff and volunteers, and enjoy a drink in our activity room in a friendly, relaxed environment.

Who can come to Cuppa at the Museum?

The sessions are aimed at people living with dementia or memory issues, their carers, families and friends.

Kelham Island Museum
Ed Webster

What makes Cuppa at the Museum dementia friendly?

The sessions are relaxed and friendly, with trained staff and volunteers on-hand to support participants. The sessions also provide an opportunity for participants to share their lived experience with others in an open and welcoming environment.

The theme of the 10th May cafe is Making a Mark: Let’s get creative.

Does every meeting have a different theme?

Yes, each session has a different theme linked to the 5 Ways of Wellbeing (be active, take part, give, take notice, keep learning).

Participants can be creative, take part in object handling or just come along and have a cup of tea and talk with staff and volunteers.

How can people find out more?

Dates and times of our upcoming sessions can be found on our website. To find out more or if you have any questions, please email [email protected]

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