Wednesday, 20 March 2019

Mayor wins campaign to save dementia care club

Mayor wins campaign to save dementia care club

A DAY care service for people with dementia is to return to Henley.

Mayor Glen Lambert is to relaunch the Bluebells community club, which will meet once a week at the Christ Church Centre in Reading Road, just as it did before closing last April.

The service, which had been running for about 20 years, was run by Age UK Oxfordshire but the charity said it couldn’t afford to keep it going after Oxfordshire County Council cut its funding.

Councillor Lambert, who has been raising money for the club during his year in office, has registered it with the Charities Commission and put together a new group of trustees.

The trustees will buy furniture and equipment before recruiting two carers and an administrator and may also seek some volunteers.

The club will meet every Thursday morning and if it proves successful, a second session could be introduced on another day. Members will be able to socialise and take part in activities such as card games, word puzzles and arts and crafts workshops.

Those who are more seriously affected will be brought to the venue in the Henley HandyBus.

The trustees are Cllr Lambert, Rev Glyn Millington, minister of the neighbouring Christ Church United Reformed Church, the centre’s treasurer Rob Lazaro and David Skinner of Henley Lions Club.

They are being advised by Dementia Oxfordshire and have spoken to former Bluebells staff and volunteers in order for the club to be as like its predecessor as possible.

The club will receive grants from Henley Town Council, which had pledged about £21,000 towards Bluebells before it closed.

The new service should be able to claim this in annual installments as it will be providing the same service. The trustees expect to spend about £3,000 on furniture, about half of which will come from the Lions Club.

Cllr Lambert said: “Registering it as a charity was an important first step in getting our funding and means we can put everything in place to get started.

“The next hurdle is opening a bank account and transferring the grants we’ve been promised.

“Our medium-term goal is to expand as soon as the numbers justify it. Obviously if demand continues to increase we would look to accommodate that but for now we’ve planned a maximum of two sessions.”

Cllr Lambert wanted to revive the service as his father Terry, who lives with him and his family in Greys Road, has Alzheimer’s disease and needs help with daily living.

He said: “Dementia affects more and more people as we have an aging population, particularly in Henley, and it can be very difficult looking after someone who has the condition. It is very helpful for families who are affected to have somewhere they can go for advice and support on what people with dementia need and the kinds of activities and strategies they will respond to.

“On top of that, people with dementia frequently need 24-hour care and supervision so their relatives and carers need occasional respite to go to the bank, finish other domestic tasks or just see some friends.

“Bluebells was never Dad’s thing but a lot of people were benefiting from it and it was tragic when it closed. I’m so pleased to be bringing it back because everybody I’ve spoken to has really wanted to help.

“There has been a lot of support from the Christ Church Centre as they saw for themselves how Bluebells worked and were aware of just how helpful it was.

“There’s a long list of people who’ve helped us reach this point and I’m grateful to everyone. Everyone we’ve worked with has been incredibly co-operative and supportive.”

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