‘Warm Welcome’ dementia is a group run by the churches in Newport for anyone living with dementia and memory problems. The group has been awarded a ‘High Sheriff of Shropshire’ Award, given to groups or individuals who have contributed to their local community. As it says on the High Sheriff’s website: “We are living in unprecedented times with COVID-19 presenting one of the biggest challenges we’ve faced for generations. The High Sheriff’s Awards provide an opportunity to recognise and celebrate some of the fantastic people who make a significant contribution to society and help make our county a better place. They are a way of giving recognition to people whose work might not otherwise have attracted appreciation from the normal sources — they are our ‘unsung heroes’.”
The picture is from the virtual award ceremony that was held on 12 March 2021. And when Warm Welcome is able to meet again in person the High Sheriff, Dean Harris JP plans to come and bring a Certificate to the group.
The group has been running since January 2019 with a team of volunteers from across the churches in Newport after recognition of a need for social support for people living with dementia. The group has a skilled music leader (Julie) and several musicians who support their musical activity. Before the pandemic, Warm Welcome was meeting monthly in Newport Parish Rooms, for music and a chat, a cuppa and cake. The group started with ten people and had grown to support up to 34 by 2020. Each session had a theme to encourage activities or crafts as well as reminiscence, from planting seeds to ‘Pets as Therapy’ dogs, from Easter bonnets to favourite holidays - and there was a memorable sports afternoon! Warm Welcome has always started with a sing along, including instruments – with people free to get up and move about, dance and use the props provided by music leader, Julie. Newport Library has supported the group with resources from games to books. The afternoon has always included home made cakes and drinks with a lovely chat. Information booklets were also available and people could be signposted to other organisations as required.
Since the start of the pandemic restrictions, the group has kept in touch with phone calls and emails, continuing to provide support. Warm Welcomers have also kept connections with doorsteps visits to members, perhaps dropping off a plant or, in February, with Valentine’s Day, a knitted heart. At the end of last year, someone affected by dementia said that Warm Welcome has been the only group, from the dementia side, that has kept in touch since lockdown.
The group is now meeting weekly on Zoom, providing an important lifeline. One lady who lives on her own, with carers coming four times a day, doesn’t easily manage Zoom/technology herself. For Warm Welcome on Zoom, the lady’s daughter pops in very early in the morning and logs her mum in. At 11am, the daughter phones her mum and tells her that the group is starting so it is time to sit in front of the computer – and the lady comes to her chair and participates, really enjoyed the interaction.
Well done, Hilary and your team of Warm Welcomers!
Dementia-friendly Church Enabler