THE FUTURE of the Droitwich Spa Meeting Centre has been secured for the next four years thanks to a grant of almost £175,000 from the National Lottery.
The funds will enable the centre to continue to help those living with dementia, along with their family and carers.
The meeting centre, based at Droitwich Rugby Club, is open each Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 10.30am to 3.30pm so members and their care partners can enjoy the company of others.
As well as relaxing, chatting and having fun, they can also get help by participating in a variety of activities aimed at addressing the emotional, cognitive and social needs which come with dementia and caring for someone with the condition.
It helps service users adjust to their changing needs, rebuilds their confidence and reduces anxiety.
Derek Radcliffe, Chair of the Droitwich Spa Meeting Centre charity, said everyone was delighted with the funding which recognised the good work being done at the centre.
“Now, thanks to National Lottery players we will be able to continue to help local people living with dementia and their family members.
“This is important because it helps members and their family members/carers both to build relationships with others facing similar challenges and to create their own supportive circle of friends.”
Jeff Mayes, a former RAF Flight Lieutenant and member of the Centre, said: “I started to get dementia and everything went down from there – you feel as though you have got nothing left but this place has given me a purpose.
“You can join in with whatever’s going on and have a good time.
“The people at the Meeting Centre are so good.
“They are there to look after you but they keep the spirit going all the time. It’s a very happy place.
“I don’t know how I’d manage if I didn’t have this place to come to – it fills a big hole in my life.”
The meeting centre, which has been running since September 2015, is the first of its kind in the UK and is staffed by a dedicated team from Age UK Herefordshire and Worcestershire.
Around 12 to 15 members attend each day with some coming for one day each week and others coming from two or three.
Philip Talbot, Chief Executive of Age UK Herefordshire and Worcestershire, added: “A diagnosis of dementia can really overwhelm people, it impacts on their self-image, their relationships with other people and their confidence.
“We are, therefore, pleased to be able to provide a varied programme of activities at the Meeting Centre which helps people to rebuild their confidence, to feel less overwhelmed, to feel less lonely and less isolated.”
The lottery funding will remove the uncertainty about the centre’s future and provide a stable base to improve the health of the members and their carers.
The cash will also enable the centre to share its experience and develop best practice with the wider dementia community through its participation in the National Lottery funded UK Meeting Centres Support Programme (UKMCSP).
Visitors from all over the UK who are interested in setting up similar programmes in their local area will be able to find out more.
The evidence gained from Droitwich, being the inaugural one, will also help with local and national funding and influence policy makers and commissioners.
And Prof Dawn Brooker, Director of the Association for Dementia Studies at the University of Worcester added: “Meeting Centres are based on solid research about what really helps people and families cope with the challenges that dementia brings.
“The Association for Dementia Studies at the University of Worcester has been working on this research since 2014.
“There is tremendous interest across the UK in setting up new Meeting Centres.
“This funding will ensure that many more communities have the opportunity to visit a fully operational Meeting Centre and to receive practical advice on how to establish their own.”
For more on the Droitwich Spa Meeting Centre click here.
If you or someone you know would like to attend the Meeting Centre or want to volunteer with the project, contact Gill Hyatt at Age UK Herefordshire and Worcestershire by email email@example.com or call her on 01905 740950.