Services for people living with dementia in Manchester

In 2019 Age Exchange were awarded a £97,000 grant from the Building Connections Fund, a partnership between the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, the Big Lottery Community Fund and the Co-Op Foundation. Grants were awarded to projects aiming to tackle loneliness and isolation in response to the findings of the Jo Cox Commission. With vital monetary backing from this grant, we launched The EachStep Club in Blackley, North Manchester. This weekly, 4 hour group, meets to use arts, creativity and reminiscence to transform the lives of people living with dementia and those that care for them. The service is hosted in a care setting run by the social care charity, Community Integrated Care, who partnered with Age Exchange in 2018, bringing our arts, health and social care expertise together.

Led by two specialist Reminiscence Arts practitioners, the group has taken part in a wide variety of reminiscence arts activities, with an emphasis on multi-sensory approaches to enliven minds and bodies and help bring the past into the present.

Group members have reported their enjoyment from trying new things, making meaningful connections with others and having a good laugh!

‘It’s a happy friendly meeting of like-minded people. We’ve written poetry and made things like pictures and collages.

‘A vibrant atmosphere and full of life. We do exercise and singing. We’re often exploring our memories and talking about the local area. It’s helping us to use our brains.

‘Singing helps us feel a lot better.’

‘It’s so different to other things, I enjoy coming here. It somewhere to come out of the house and I enjoy seeing people.

‘Oh the laughs we have when we’re sat in that circle! We get things wrong, but we have such a laugh about it. None of us are artists but it’s so enjoyable having a go. It’s the friendships that really make it. We’ve got friends here now.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, our group has been suspended until it is safe to reopen our doors.

However, we are pleased to announce that our funding period from the Community Lottery Fund, together with some extra financial backing from the We Love Manchester charity, has enabled the project to be extended to December 2020. We have hopes that we may secure yet more funding to see it to continue beyond this date.

The EachStep Club members have been ably supported, both throughout the lockdown period and before, by our Project Coordinator. This has enabled them to access our Virtual Day Care service with regular telephone befriending calls and the delivery of activity boxes and DVDs.

For more information on this project or to make a referral, please contact hello@age-exchange.org.uk