Supporting the older generation

Funding level: Up to £1,000


Sid Valley Memory Café provides people living with dementia and their carers with a place to go to each week where they can spend quality time together - supported by trained volunteers and surrounded by members from their own community with first-hand experience of the difficult everyday reality of living with dementia.

Beyond the weekly activities and outings the volunteer-led charity provides for the carer and the cared for, we play an important role in bringing people together to share knowledge about dementia, offer practical support, provide emotional assistance to each other and form friendships. This is especially important as a third of people with dementia say they lose friends following a diagnosis. It is very easy to become socially isolated and left feeling alone and vulnerable – which can, in turn, lead to depression and a decline in physical health and well-being.

For many of our members, Sid Valley Memory Café is their only source of support and their connection to the community in which they belong. This is backed up by research which states that nearly 50% of people with dementia only go out to do things in their local area once a week or less.

We are seeking funding to start up a new project, called Be-Friends. This project will specifically support our members where their loved one has died, moved into long-term care or who are on their own for any other reason. These are all life events which can increase the risk of loneliness, compounded by a lack of companionship.

We will use our trained and compassionate volunteers from the Memory Cafe to set up a befriending scheme whereby our volunteers will accompany one of our members on a trip to a local garden centre, café or any other local place of their choosing for a drink and a chat. It is quite often these little things that make the biggest difference - and offer a conduit for opening up about their feelings, emotions and concerns for the future. Given that those who will benefit from Be-Friends are already members of Sid Valley Memory Café, our volunteers will be known to them, which will help to reduce some of the stigma surrounding loneliness and avoids putting the onus on the person who is lonely to reach out – which can be very hard for them to do.

The funding will enable us to provide 50 Be-Friends outings. It is envisaged that this befriending service will be the first-step to enable people to progress on to other groups and activities, as they will gain through increased confidence and contact and develop strong social contacts in their community on which they can draw upon. Our volunteers will support them to do this. Ultimately, it is hoped that the older people who are part of Be-Friends will go on to consider becoming volunteers for Sid Valley Memory Café and they, in turn, will receive support and training to undertake this new role.

Be-Friends is whole-heartedly driven by a real need in our community to support people who have been bereaved, whose loved one has moved into long-term care or who are feeling lonely for any other reason. As a charity lead solely by volunteers, we really will make this grant go a long way towards improving the quality of life for carers and the cared for affected by dementia.

Sid Valley Memory Cafe

Moment of Pride

We're a small charity, at the heart of a community, with a huge drive and an unswerving focus to make life better for families living with dementia. Be-Friends epitomises our approach to doing little things that we know will make the biggest difference to others, lead by our exceptional volunteers.

Location: Sidmouth