A MAJOR University of Worcester backed bid to provide a vital lifeline to those living with dementia and their families has been boosted with a £587,000 cash injection from the Big Lottery Fund.
The University’s Association for Dementia Studies has been awarded the grant towards its Meeting Centres Support Programme. Over the next three years, the funding will support communities across the UK in their bid to set up centres for people and families affected by dementia.
Meeting centres are a local resource, operating out of ordinary community buildings, offering expert support to people living at home with dementia. At the heart of the centre is a social club where people can meet to have fun, talk to others and get the help they need.
Together with the Alzheimer’s Society, university chiefs completed research to learn about meeting centres from the Netherlands where they originated and examined pilot projects in the UK, Italy and Poland.
Two pilot projects were set up in the UK, in Droitwich and Leominster and the success of the schemes has inspired others to establish centres in a number of UK locations.
Professor Dawn Brooker, director of the Association for Dementia Studies at the University of Worcester who is leading the project, said the cash would have a ‘significant impact’ on people’s lives.
“The numbers of people affected by dementia continues to rise with little hope of an early cure,” she said.
The grant will help to establish a National Reference Group which will have the voice of people affected by dementia at its heart. This will be linked closely to a new Community of Learning and Practice, comprising representatives from the existing sites and other interested parties.
Workshops will be held for those interested in starting centres in their communities and a help-desk will be in place early on for existing, new and pre start-up centres.
Jeremy Hughes, CEO of the Alzheimer’s Society, said: “Working on the Meeting Centres Support Programmes in partnership with the University of Worcester, we have been able to really put the programme through its paces and hone in on the most effective practices, establishing this innovative approach and ensuring it best contributes to improved quality of life for people with dementia and their carers.
“It is a really exciting prospect for this to be rolled out in more communities, becoming available to more people affected.”
Joe Ferns, UK funding director at the Big Lottery Fund, said: “It will be great to see communities coming together to set up more and more meeting centres across the UK, helping people to access the support they need.”