Big Lottery Fund
‘I see people open up like a flower’: The local charity helping people with dementia blossom, thanks to National Lottery funding
Cornwall based charity, Sensory Trust, has been awarded nearly £205,000 from The National Lottery Community Fund, the largest community funder in the UK, to continue helping people with dementia lead happier lives by connecting with the natural world.
Bill, a regular at Sensory Trust’s fortnightly group in Penzance, started going along in 2019 shortly after being diagnosed. Bill yesterday said:
“I wasn’t interested in nature at all, but the dementia nurse passed on the details of the group so I thought I’d go along. Within ten minutes I felt like I had been going for years, everyone was so friendly.”
Sensory Trust, which facilitates activities for young people as well as those with dementia, believes in the power of the great outdoors to transform people’s physical and mental health and reduce social isolation. The National Lottery Community Fund will enable Sensory Trust to continue their work creating 8 new clubs around Cornwall, supporting many more people with dementia get outdoors.
Ellie Robinson-Carter, Creative Spaces Project Manager at Sensory Trust, runs the ‘Paul Nature Group’ that Bill attends. She yesterday said:
“We are always told in the media dementia is about decline and losing yourself whereas actually, through working with these groups over the years, I’ve realised you can still keep hold of joy, and reconnect with different parts of yourself.
“People come to a group and their body language is really stooped over and they are saying things like ‘why am I here, I don’t know why I came here’ and then within a couple of months their whole body language has relaxed. They have almost opened up like a flower.”
In addition to the nature walks the charity regularly invites along artists to run craft workshops and with the recent funding have plans to get their regulars involved in climate action, with litter picking projects on local beaches.
For Bill, it cannot be understated the impact these activities have on his quality of life. He yesterday said:
“Now when I am on a drive or a trip with the family, I often get them to stop so I can take a picture of a flower or plant I’ve seen on the side of the road, to show the rest of the group. It got me interested in nature and back into photography which I haven’t done in years.”
Brenda, Bill’s wife, yesterday said:
“Normally, it would take a lot to get Bill to talk so much. But get him on to the topic of the nature group and he can talk for hours, which goes to show how passionate about it he is.”
“Normally I am quite an inward person, but I can talk about this for hours. Everything I put into the nature group, I get back in friendship.”
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