Some time ago, before I moved, Michael White – Alzheimer’s society Operations Manager for West Yorkshire – asked me to speak at their annual volunteers day. The title Michael had given my 30 minute talk was “Getting involved and the ‘R’ word”…….
So last Thursday, the day started off early as I had to get to Hull to catch a train for Leeds. I noticed in the local paper yesterday that Beverley is going to get more train services in the new year and one direct to Leeds and London is promised, so hopefully that will come to fruition sooner rather than later. It was also a very rainy miserable morning. I moaned about the rain but the poor people in the Lake District must be distraught. My favourite place on earth under water – I just can’t imagine it – very sad.
At Leeds I was told to go to the taxi rank where Tania Taylor would be waiting to organise taxis. Tania is the Services Manager for Calderdale & Kirklees.
Sure enough Tania spotted me as I wasn’t sure which of the 2 taxi ranks to head for. There were 5 of us at the station and we managed to get a taxi together.
Once we got there I saw a few familiar faces but couldn’t for the life of me remember names…………hate that……..
It was held at the Shine in Harehills Leeds – somewhere I know well from my days at St James hospital. There were about 60 – a mixture of staff and volunteers. There were Christmas crackers on the table which did make me wish I’d found my ear plugs as the noise was very loud as everyone’s or into the Christmas spirit …….
Michael started off the day…
After the normal housekeeping stuff, Michael introduced it as the first annual event. West Yorkshire is a very big area with many things happening. Hands up who had been with the society for how long – shortest was 1 month and longest was 18.5 years.
So there was a good mix of experience and nice to see all the different areas represented too.
The aim of the afternoon was to discuss the future strategy but I’d already been involved in a session which had annoyed me and made me sad so I wasn’t worried about missing that. Leaving at lunch time also meant I wouldn’t miss the village bus.
Alison and Bindi spoke next – about their involvement with CRISP ( Care information Support I think ) It’s a programme for carers designed to help them support people with dementia (I”d be interested to see the content of the sessions)
They’d spoke of the valuable part volunteers play.. Someone volunteers in their office and helps get resources ready for CRISP sessions. They’d struggle to cope as efficiently as they do without volunteers.
Alison – Dementia support manager said:
‘Without our volunteers we wouldn’t be able to do what we do.’
Then Michael again – ‘A Year in dementia for West Yorkshire and looking ahead to the 2017-2022 Strategy.
He asked for 6 volunteers to hold placards at the front – each piece of paper had a stadium with their capacity see photo – He asked In comparison to the capacity of each of these stadiums, how many people with dementia are there in West Yorkshire? There are in fact over 25,000 people with dementia in West Yorkshire so she is more than Bradford Football club stadium at Valley parade which holds 25,000
There are 67,000 across Yorks and Humber – more than double the capacity of Bradford Football club stadium – A sobering thought.
One of the main aims of the society is to increase diagnosis rates, and West Yorkshire has a higher diagnosis rate than the national average.
However, Michael also said that a diagnosis doesn’t mean anything if services and support aren’t there.
Between Sept and Nov this year – 877 carers and 668 people with dementia have accessed Alzheimer services in West Yorks– doesn’t sound many but there are areas where Alzheimers society doesn’t have a contract.
Memory Walks in West Yorks alone raised £185K – every singe walk had an increase in numbers and money raised – yeh!
We then got into the 4 regions groups to decide on the best 3 achievements of late and which should be celebrated.
People’s enthusiasm and dedication should be bottled. Lots of smiley cheery faces – perfect. Many of these people give their time and energy free of charge– wonderful.
Many wonderful projects were quoted but one which stuck out was of a side by side story (side by side is a new society venture where people with dementia are supported on a 121 basis to do something they’ve always loved but now they simply need support to continue……) A person with dementia wanted to go swimming so through ‘side by side’ they found someone to support them but the supporter soon realised they weren’t very good at swimming so it ended up with the person with dementia supporting the supporter to supported become a better swimmer!! Brilliant! Just because we have dementia doesn’t mean we can’t still do things, we just often need to do them differently……
I was up next before lunch. I spoke about my story, the importance of research, Join Dementia Research, Alzheimers society research network, finishing off with the advantages of Alzheimers………..There were a few question afterwards but then even more over lunch, which was wonderful.
What became apparent is that within West Yorkshire, there are, like everywhere else, pockets of absolute brilliance. However, ‘pockets’ is sadly the recurring theme. We have to get consistency of opportunity to access services, because, what was obvious today is that if services are available, there’s a whole load of people with dementia waiting to access them.
The Memory support workers who I spoke to during their induction earlier in the year were at the event, Tracy Brierley, and other people I’ve met in the past, all came up and said hello. I spoke to some wonderful people over lunch, but sadly had to leave before the final afternoon session due to the infrequency of my village bus! I was so pleased to have been invited.
I didn’t take a photo of the Humber Bridge in the morning as it was so wet and miserable. It was still miserable on the way home but at least the rain had stopped……
always I know I’ve not far to go when I see the bridge…….and it also tells me I’ve got on the right train…….😊
Tomorrow I’ve been invited to Downing Street in the afternoon and to do a reading at the Annual Alzheimers Society Carol Concert in London so a busy day ahead…….