A Summer of Mini Adventures

Continuing their series of day trips, events, and visits, here’s what the South Gloucestershire Dementia Meeting Centre groups have been up to so far this summer.

Setting Sail

With the weather (somewhat) on our side, our members, staff and volunteers headed off to Bristol’s famous floating harbour.

Life jackets on, they were ready to go! Thanks to the kind team at All-Aboard Water Sports, everyone was able to enjoy a cruise around the docks on the wheelchair-friendly boat with the Captain treating us to a historic tour, pointing out local landmarks and giving time for our members to talk and ask questions.

Having built up an appetite, after sailing we headed to The Cottage Inn on Bristol Harbourside for some delicious food. Everyone had a lovely day!

Tickets, Please!

June saw us enjoying another mode of transport; this time, a train! Joining North Somerset Meeting Centre, we hopped aboard the Avon Valley Railway for some fun on the tracks.

Sharing stories of days out on trains, trips to the West End, family excursions, and holidays further afield, the day was filled with excitement and conversation between our members.

Looking out at the wonderful scenery, we all agreed that steam trains are a wonderful way to travel and ended the day with an afternoon tea.

The Meeting Centre UK Family Blanket

Celebrating the ever-growing family of Dementia Meeting Centres across the UK, our members were set a challenge by the Association for Dementia Studies: to design and create squares for a Meeting Centre blanket!

Comprising of squares from members nationwide, the blanket will form together to create a wonderful representation of the work Meeting Centres do. Inspired by what our Meeting Centres mean to them, our members got creative using a variety of techniques from collage to crochet!

Speaking of the feelings, hope, and support our members enjoy at our Meeting Centre groups, their blanket squares include heart-warming details like forget-me-not flowers (a symbol long-associated with dementia) and a dinner party-like setting inspired by what one carer said of the Meeting Centre, “eating together is like a family”.

A huge thank you to the Association for Dementia Studies at Worcester University and Dr Jennifer Bray for getting us involved. Keep a look out for the finished blanket coming soon.

Roger Griffith MBE on ‘What is Windrush?’

Ahead of the 75th Anniversary of the HMT Empire Windrush arriving in Britain, we’re honoured to share the below piece from friend of Alive, Roger Griffith MBE.

Social activist, author of ‘From the Windrush to The White House’, UWE Lecturer & Engagement Officer, and CEO of Creative Connex CIC, Roger has been organising events for the elders to celebrate events like Windrush for several years and has been an avid supporter of the Bristol BME Elders Groups.

Windrush signifies a key moment in British history and is a symbol of the people that emigrated from the West Indies and latterly the Commonwealth. The arrival of the passengers, filing off the boat smartly dressed in their ‘Sunday best’ in suits and ties, dresses, frocks and hats, is an important landmark and generates great pride. The Windrush Generation refers to people arriving in Britain between 1948 and 1971 and their latter-day descendants. 

Today their impact can be seen in equality laws, the NHS, culture, business, sport and more, reaping plentiful rewards for Britain through the generations. Enduring racism remains in policing and education as well as wealth and health inequality gaps. Windrush 75 however provides an opportunity to commemorate the sacrifice and celebrate the achievements of the brave pioneers. 

Roger Griffith MBE, (Hon Art.D.) Honorary Doctor of Arts

Marking the milestone in history and helping to spark conversation about the past, present, and future of British multi-ethic society, Roger will be giving an online talk on Windrush Day – delving into the rich and significant history of the Windrush Generation.

‘Windrush Through the Generations’ | Thursday 22nd June 11:30
Book your free place here.

We have also previously been partners in an animation celebrating the Windrush pioneers which you can watch here.

A Heartfelt Thank You to Our Incredible Volunteers

At Alive, we know it’s important to reflect on the goodness and kindness of those who make a difference to the lives of others. And with it being Volunteers’ Week 2023, we would like to extend our heartfelt gratitude to the 70+ volunteers at Alive who have been unwavering in their commitment to supporting older people through meaningful activity sessions.

Bringing joy, compassion, creativity and a sense of purpose to the lives of older people, their dedication makes a tangible difference, uplifting spirits and reminding older individuals that they are cherished and never alone.

From arts and crafts to music, gardening and reminiscing sessions, our volunteers cultivate an environment where our participants feel safe and welcome, where they can relive special memories, forge new friendships, and share their interests and skills. The warm and caring presence of our volunteers helps to foster genuine connections and emotional support, helping our participants feel valued and understood. They not only bring practical assistance but also a renewed sense of confidence and independence to our participants.

Our volunteers currently support our Dementia Meeting Centres, our social and therapeutic horticulture sessions in care homes and community gardens, and our intergenerational sessions – bringing school children and care home residents together. They also help us fulfil wishes of older people in care through our Wishing Washing Line West project. Our volunteers Mary, Christine and Lewis have shared what it’s like to volunteer with us here.

To our volunteers we want to say a huge THANK YOU from the whole team. We couldn’t do what we do without you. Let’s create many more moments of joy together and #LightUpLaterLife.

Funding News | Spring Update

We were delighted to have been awarded a grant of £57,892 from the Masonic Charitable Foundation to continue running supported gardening sessions at our dementia-friendly allotment. The grant will enable us to support lots more older people, including those living with dementia and their carers, providing opportunities to get out in the fresh air, meet people and make new friends, whilst enjoying nature and growing our own fruit, veg and flowers. A huge thank you to the Masonic Charitable Foundation for their wonderful support!

We’ve also been awarded a wonderful 3-year grant from the Rayne Foundation – a substantial £20,000/year towards our core costs! This funding will make a huge difference, enabling us to continue to deliver our services and support for older people and their carers. Again, a massive thank you to the Rayne Foundation for their ongoing support.

We’re also extremely grateful to the Quartet Community Foundation, St Monica Trust, The Grateful Society, The Anchor Society, and the John James Bristol Foundation for their incredible support of our BME Elders Health and Wellbeing project. We’ve been awarded a total of £48,911 to continue to support older people from BME communities in Bristol – who attend the Malcolm X, Golden Agers, and Evergreens elders groups. Thank you very much!

Bristol Dementia Meeting Centre | Spring Update

Hear from our lovely Bristol Dementia Meeting Centre Manager, Sally, on what the group has been up to this quarter.

Making A Difference

Members and carers worked together to create products to sell at our fabulous Spring Fundraising Bazaar earlier in March. Our mini social enterprise group helped us raise a whopping £320, with the day being a roaring success by all accounts. Really enjoying the chance to give something back to their local community, our members have really enjoyed events like this – not only helping to strengthen feelings of inclusion but helping others to realise that the group have so much to offer too! Members have also helped to prepare lunch tables, set up activities and attend to re-cycling duties – keeping our Centre tidy and supporting independent living skills at the same time.

Getting Out and About

The benefits of fresh air and exercise cannot be over emphasised! Our members love visiting old haunts and places that hold special memories. Our visit to Bristol’s historic harbour provided members with an opportunity to see how the city has changed and make an emotional connection to former times in their lives that they might have forgotten. It enables them to maintain and develop their personal identity.

Maintaining Strength and Balance

We know that keeping physically active can help reduce falls. Making exercise enjoyable, has been key to getting everyone involved. Seated dance-style exercise sessions, balloon tennis, and ball skills have been very popular and have helped members improve co-ordination, stay active and above all have fun!

Community Gardening | Spring Update

Our community gardens are slowly returning to life after a wet, cold start to the year. Despite the weather, it’s been heartening to see people coming out to all our sessions, no matter what the elements have thrown at us! It demonstrates how important gardening and being outside is to the people we work with.

With warmer weather on the horizon (please!), we have lots in the pipeline – read about it and what we’ve been up to so far this year below.

Blaise Weston Court, Lawrence Weston

The LW group were lucky enough to go on a trip to Blaise Plant Nursery when it reopened this spring and bought plants to renovate our large entrance planters and for participants’ gardens and balconies. We have been joining and hosting events as part of Lawrence Weston’s “Grow, Cook, Eat” initiative and signposting participants and volunteers to other local groups and services. We also welcomed children from Avon Youth Club to sessions to learn about sowing veg and flower seeds in homemade pots and planted trees for the next generation.

Wellspring Settlement Community Garden

The Alive Wellspring Settlement group have been busy planting crops such as chayote, ginger, turmeric and callaloo. We’ll be working with some of the Food Club’s community chefs to learn how to cook these in the months ahead. We also spent an afternoon sprucing up the Wellspring surgery garden with plants Ashton Court Estate’s head gardener, Tom, donated to us. The beds surrounding the community centre are now a riot of colour, brightening the neighbourhood. We’ve also been having community conversations for Friends of the Earth in partnership with Tay Aziz from Avon Wildlife Trust about urban greening, which has been illuminating.

Dementia-Friendly Allotment

We’re now back to two Bristol sessions a week at the allotment, which is great, as there’s lots to do! As of March, we’ve also been running a Monday morning session for people who live in South Glos.

We have a few extra sessions and open days at the allotment coming up soon:

15th May, 13.30 – 15.30: The site will be open for Cuppa for a Cure – a fundraiser for BRACE, the dementia research charity. It’ll be an opportunity to experience a session, see the site, drink tea and eat cake with us!

22nd May, 10.00 – 12:00: We’re also running an open event for people interested in our South Glos session. Feel free to drop by for any or all of the session. This session is aimed at prospective new participants and health/social care practitioners.

2nd June, 14.00 – 16.00: Happy Days Memory Cafe is back at the allotment for the first of this year’s biannual trips. We’ll be doing clay-based green craft activities and hosting a cream tea. Do get in touch with Bristol Dementia Action Alliance if you’d like to join us.

4th June, 14.00 – 16.00: The allotment will be part of this year’s Get Growing Trail – a citywide opportunity to explore secret growing spaces. Join us as the allotment’s gates open for tours, tea, coffee and a chance to learn about our work.

The Hoppiness Project

We recently launched the latest project to come out of the brains of our Social and Therapeutic Horticulture team – The Hoppiness Project. The idea is that we’ll join forces with care homes to grow hops which a local brewery will make a green-hopped beer with in autumn. Our first session was a reminiscence and sensory session, which went down very well with residents at Deerhurst. Read all about it here.

Activity Sessions & Training | Spring Update


We are thrilled to be able to introduce five new Session Facilitators – Sam, Emma, Louisa, Jacqui and Eeva.  All of them are multi-skilled, and have lots of experience to bring to our sessions, from gentle exercise, dance and movement therapy and guided reminiscence, to live music, therapeutic horticulture, art workshops and multi-sensory techniques.  We are so proud to be able to offer such a great mix of sessions both in care homes and community settings.

We were lucky to receive funding from the NHS Ageing Well Fund to run seated movement sessions in care homes in Bristol, Weston Super Mare and South Gloucestershire.  They have been a great success – getting people moving, enjoying themselves and maintaining strength and mobility.

Spring is here and our Growing Support sessions are becoming more popular as the weather warms up.  Residents have been planting seeds for summer growth and looking forward to a bumper harvest.

Our new 2 Hour Alive Clubs are proving to be popular – many care homes are opting to choose an hour of group activity followed by an hour of one-to-one sessions, ensuring that residents who don’t usually participate in group sessions, can enjoy some quality, meaningful one-to-one engagement with one of our Facilitators.

If you would like to book an Alive session, please call the office on 0117 377 47 56.


We have carried out Activity Audits in 15 care homes, helping to give care homes ideas of how they can take their activity provision to the next level.  Care homes have been booking these audits annually, so that they can work towards the recommendations we give for best activity practice.

We have been busy training teams from St. Monica Trust, Bristol Care Homes, Hallmark Care, Bristol City Council Independent Living Team and Network North Somerset, embedding the importance of meaningful engagement for older people.  Topics have included “The Whole Home Approach To Meaningful Activity,” “Co-Production In Care Homes,” and “Engaging With Later Stage Dementia.”

Activity Cupboards

Our Activity Cupboard sessions are now face to face again! These are free workshops in Bristol, South Gloucestershire and North Somerset, for people working in care homes and activity provision, and give opportunities to develop skills and meet staff from other care homes.

Book your place and find out more here.

Carers’ Workshops at North Somerset Dementia Meeting Centre

In collaboration with Wellspring Counselling (a charity based in Nailsea), a series of workshops were facilitated at the Dementia Meeting Centre in Christchurch, Clevedon during February and March 2023.

These aimed to help Caregivers learn a number of skills and coping strategies to build resilience in their care role. These workshops have included the following topics:

  • Managing your stress levels
  • Improving how you feel about yourself
  • Managing your frustrations
  • Coping with change
  • Keeping your spirits up

In addition to developing a deeper understanding of the many emotions experienced as a care-giver, participants were offered a range of practical skills to support them on a daily basis e.g., breathing and relaxation techniques, learning to be kind to oneself and how to express emotions in a safe and supportive way.

These workshops were well-received with the following feedback:

  • Peer support brought a sense of unity and solidarity in their shared experience.
  • Provided a safe place in which to share knowledge and other hints and tips learnt from the experience of being a carer
  • Carers felt more at ease knowing that their cared-for were meaningfully engaged with other members of the DMC whilst they were attending the workshops.

Including these heartwarming quotes:

  • “I now know it’s okay to cry”
  • “It’s important to be kind to yourself as you’re doing the best you can”
  • “It feels good knowing that I’m not alone and spending time with other people in the same situation is a huge source of support and comfort”

If you would like to learn more about our Carers’ Workshops, please reach out to our Building Mental Health Resilience Manager, Julie Drew on 0117 377 4756


Enabling five care homes across North Somerset and South Gloucestershire to host festive celebrations this past Easter, we would like to eggs-tend a huge thank you to our funders #iwill National Lottery Community Fund and Dunhill Medical trust for helping our #OneGoodTurn project’s Easter Egg-Stravaganza. 

Held on Good Friday, five of our #OneGoodTurn care homes invited young people from the local community for a special day of festive fun. Activities included Easter crafts such as egg-painting and decorating bonnets, an egg and spoon race, an Easter Egg Hunt and even a visit from the Easter Bunny! With meaningful bonds formed over lots of chocolate, it was a fabulous day by all accounts.

Maria, Activities Coordinator at Robinson House shared, “We really enjoyed putting this event on. It was lovely to see our residents interacting with the children and other family members. Some of our staff came along too which was nice as they got to spend quality time with the residents.” 

Abbie, Activities Coordinator at Badminton Place, echoed these sentiments and shared that the event at their care home was also a triumph with 25 residents and 40 visitors attending. “It was lovely to be with the children and see them doing the activities together with the residents. It was lovely for the residents to be with friends and family and to meet new people.”

We would like to thank Badminton Place, Bishopsmead Lodge, Robinson House, Blossom Fields and The Grove Care Home for participating and making the day such a success. We’re thrilled you all had such a cracking time!