Young and old are coming together as a group of two and three-year olds from a group named ‘Albie’s Ark’ have started regularly visiting Wellfield Memory Café held each week at Wellfield Community Hall, Hartley.
The café, started by local resident Vee McGannon and Community Warden Jackie West four years ago, gives those with dementia a chance to have a cup of tea and some fun in a safe environment, and their carers a chance to talk to others who are going through similar experiences. The Alzheimer’s and Dementia Support Service also attends each week to provide professional advice to carers.
Albie’s Ark was set up by a local mum whose child passed away at only three days old. She wished to give back to her community and support other mums and families who may be experiencing bereavement. The children talk, play games and colour with the older people who visit the cafe, along with having stories read to them.
Lots of research is currently being done in the area of inter-generational events such as this to prove that it improves the lives of all who attend. The social skills and general mood of both the children and the people with dementia have improved, the events help people with dementia focus on the 'here and now' and all who participate improve their fine motor skills.
Local hardware store Longfield Hardware provided t-shirts for the children free of charge, so they could be easily recognised by those visiting the café.
West Kent's tenancy support manager says: “The mums’ work is a wonderful example of how inter-generational events like this can bring so much support and joy to the whole community.”