Swanage and Wareham dementia charities expand across Purbeck

Combining their considerable strengths, Swanage and Wareham dementia friendly organisations have joined together to benefit the whole area, offering support to the villages in Purbeck as well as the two main towns.

Launched at a reception at the Conservative Club in Swanage on Friday 24th March 2023, the charities have merged under the new name of Dementia Friendly Purbeck.

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Merger of dementia charities
Merger of dementia charities

The launch of Dementia Friendly Purbeck took place at the Coservative Club in Swanage attended by the charity’s supporters including the Mayor of Swanage Tina Foster and the Mayor of Wareham Malcolm Russell

“Combined group will have a stronger voice”

Chair of the new organisation is former Swanage Mayor and local councillor Mike Bonfield. Speaking at the launch, he said:

“It’s planned that the combined group will have a stronger voice to influence and work in cooperation with the new direction that the NHS is taking with dementia care.

“We’ve been working towards a merger for some time, as we’ve realised that while we have been working well in Swanage and Wareham, we really need to spread out the organisation across Purbeck and out to all the villages.

“The whole objective being to improve local acceptance and facilities for all families affected by the relatively recent recognition of the dreadful disease of dementia, in all its various forms.”

Mike Bonfield and mayor of Wareham Malcolm Russell at Merger of dementia charities

Chair of Dementia Friendly Purbeck Mike Bonfield (left) with the Mayor of Wareham Malcolm Russell (right)

Launch of Dementia friendly Purbeck with Mike Bonfield and Mayor of Swanage Tina Foster

The new charity is supported by both the Swanage and Wareham mayors. Mike Bonfield (left) with the Mayor of Swanage Tina Foster (right)

Aim to create a safe and non-stigmatising community

The two charities were formed around the same time in 2014 with the aim of raising awareness and understanding of dementia, as well as creating a safe and non-stigmatising community where people with dementia can live well.

Help and support for all those living with dementia and their families and carers was developed with Making Memories, singing groups and Forget Me Not clubs set up in Swanage and Wareham.

Launch of Dementia friendly Purbeck with Allsort'd

The Allsort’d Choir entertained the guests at the launch

Admiral Nurse for Purbeck achieved in 2017

However the main achievement was the appointment in 2017 of the community Admiral Nurse for Purbeck Rachel Murray, made possible by the considerable fundraising effort of the two charities in cooperation with Dementia UK and the NHS. The local communities contributed more than £100,000 over six years up to 2023.

Admiral Nurses are specially trained in dementia care and provide assistance to those living with one or more different types of dementia and their families. Purbeck was one of the first areas in the UK to pilot the role and now there are Admiral Nurses based across the country.

Launch of Admiral Nurse Rachel Murray in 2017

Admiral Nurse for Purbeck Rachel Murray, pictured second from right at the launch of the Admiral Nurse service in 2017 at Durlston Castle in Swanage

Dementia friendly activities have resumed

The Covid pandemic did mean the curtailment of many of the dementia friendly activities but they have now resumed.

The singing groups and Making Memories sessions restarted in Swanage in October 2021, followed by the Forget Me Not sessions at the Swanage and Wareham Rugby Club in Wareham, now also supported by Age UK.

  • Making Memories: Dementia friendly cafe with coffee, cake and a chat. First and third Tuesday of the month, 10 am to 12 noon at The Mowlem Showbar, Shore Road, Swanage
  • Purbeck Forget Me Not group: Activities, guest speakers, games, warm drinks and a warm welcome! Mondays 10.30 am to 12 noon at the Wareham and Swanage Rugby Club, Bestwall Road, Wareham.
  • Singing for Pleasure group: A wide variety of popular music musically led by Karen Grant. Thursdays from 2pm at Emmanuel Baptist Church, Victoria Avenue, Swanage.
Merger of dementia charities

Handing over £500 from Wareham Rotary. Left to right: Swanage Town Mayor Tina Foster, Treasurer for Demetia Friendly Purbeck Mo Andrews, Chair of Dementia Friendly Purbeck Mike Bonfield, Wareham Town Mayor Malcolm Russell and Ann Popplewell from Wareham Rotary

Wareham Rotary hands over a cheque to new charity

Fundraising activities have also resumed and at the launch event, the first cheque to be handed over to Dementia Friendly Purbeck was from Wareham Rotary for £500.

Secretary of Dementia Friendly Purbeck George Pothecary said:

“Following the merger, we’re looking for new practical ways to support those living with dementia and their families. The idea is to go where help is really needed.”

“Fundraising has provided resources like the projector, which shines interactive activities onto a table. It’s really useful in getting everyone to engage and it’s really flexible as there are lots of different things to do.”

Merger of dementia charities

Secretary of Dementia Friendly Purbeck George Pothecary with one of the new resources funded by donations

Merger of dementia charities

The projector can shine on any table providing engaging and interactive activities

“Even a little bit of help is really supportive and welcome”

Mike Bonfield added:

“We’re always looking for more volunteers to get involved. Even a little bit of help is really supportive and welcome.

“We’d like the Making Memories cafe at The Mowlem in Swanage to take place every Tuesday but we’ll need more helpers to come forward to make that happen. ”

Further information

  • More about Dementia Friendly Purbeck is on its website
  • Dementia UK is a charity which provides help and support for all those living with dementia and their families

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