World Alzheimer’s Month 2023

The theme of this year’s World Alzheimer’s Month is ‘Never too early, never too late’, with Alzheimer’s Disease International calling on everyone to raise awareness of Alzheimer’s and the risk factors linked to all types of dementia.

To commemorate World Alzheimer’s Day this Thursday, we’re delivering a Dementia Friends (DF) session at our South Glos Dementia Meeting Centre, joining Alzheimer’s Society’s plans to use the day to help educate, encourage support of and demystify dementia.

Winsome, our Meeting Centre manager and Alzheimer’s Society Dementia Ambassador, will be running the session and says:

Many people know someone with dementia. In the UK, with over 900,000 people affected with dementia, it is becoming increasingly more common to know someone with the condition. However, how dementia presents in each person is unique to that person. The aim of the DF session, is to give our family, carers, and spouses the opportunity to get a wider understanding of dementia. Knowledge will not change the symptoms, but understanding why a person with dementia behaves as they do will help everyone better support their loved ones at home.

This information sharing is part of the way that the SGDMC helps and supports our members to adapt to the changes dementia brings.

Introducing our new Empathy Suit Experience Training

We are so proud to be offering our new Empathy Suit Experience training to anybody working with older people and those living with dementia. Earlier this month, we had the pleasure of welcoming the Alzheimer’s Society UX & Web Design team to try out the new experience.

What is The Empathy Suit Experience?

Introducing the Empathy Suit – a suit made up of 13 components which work to inhibit mobility, motor skills, vision, and hearing – giving the wearer a unique sense of how it may feel to be a person living with dementia and older age impairment. Literally “putting them in the shoes,” of the people they support. 

Set simple, everyday tasks such as moving objects on a table and walking from a to b, attendees take it in turns to try on the suit which mimics Parkinsonian tremors, arthritis, tinnitus, impaired vision, confusion, heaviness and more. Watch the introductory video and see the suit on here:

Training with the Alzheimer’s Society

This August, several team members from the UX & Web Design team came into our offices for a bespoke Empathy Suit Experience training day. Setting them tasks to complete, such as walking short distances, reading, and moving objects, the team took it in turns to try on the suit. With their work focussed on the accessibility of the Alzheimer’s Society webpage, we also tasked them with navigating their site from the point of view of one of their users who may be living with dementia and older age impairment.

The results were eye-opening, with attendees praising the the suit’s ability to restrict movement, sharing that they’d gained not only a greater understanding of dementia, but also of the feedback they’d received from older people using the website. With plans to put their experiences into place, we’re honoured to have shared such an emotive experience with everyone. A huge thank you to the Alzheimer’s Society for taking part.

I think the suit experience should be mandatory for all care home staff.
Great experience.


Learn More

Ideal for anybody working with older people, and those living with dementia, including:

  • Healthcare Sector
  • Public Services
  • Retail
  • Academia

Get in touch today to chat to us about bespoke courses by calling 0117 377 4756 or emailing Find out more here.

Open Days at South Glos Meeting Centre

This July, we opened the doors to our SGDMC to anyone living with mild to moderate dementia in the local area. Providing a delicious afternoon tea and the opportunity to find out more about the group, we shared advice, stories, and support with others in our community.

Our members and carers were involved in both the planning and delivery of events on the day, all choosing activities and engaging in conversations with our visitors. One talented carer baked 40 scones to mark the occasion, with another leading on the exercise to reduce trips and falls.

We had time to tell our visitors that we support our members with adjusting to the changes dementia brings, be they social, emotional, practical or physical.

Following the two successful open days, and thanks to the hard work of our group members – and staff and volunteers alike – we now have new families who have since visited our SGDMC again. We’re over the moon to be welcoming them, and look forward to them joining us on a regular basis.

If you missed the Afternoon Tea event, you can still book a free taster session with us where you can try some activities, meet others on a similar journey, and get to know our amazing team.

If you would like to find out how the SGDMC can support you adjust to the changes dementia brings, do give us a call on 07377 197 893 or email We would love to hear from you!

Fancy finding out more about the benefits of our Dementia Meeting Centres? Read our latest Member Satisfaction Survey and update from Project Manager, Louise, here.

Dementia Meeting Centre Satisfaction Survey

Hear from our Meeting Centre Project Manager, Louise Spencer, on the overwhelmingly positive feedback from members of our Meeting Centres in Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire.

Members Living with Dementia

All our members reported that they enjoyed the groups, liked the atmosphere, liked the other people who attended, and appreciated the staff and volunteers.

I look forward to Tuesdays to get out, meet up with new friends, chat, play games and have lunch.


It’s brilliant; it’s the best thing I do!


Showing us that the Meeting Centres are a safe space to talk about dementia without any stigma or judgement, one member said:

I like to talk about dementia [here].


Members who are Carers

Meeting Centres were also rated positively by carers including the opening hours, staffing, expertise, ability to talk to staff, support available for members and carers, and also support from other carers. 

The centre has been an invaluable source of support and information. Mum loves attending, enjoys all the activities and the social aspect that it brings.


Appreciating the range of activities and how they are tailored for members, one carer liked how the activities were:

All inclusive, even for those who are seated in a wheelchair.


This has been a godsend. I don’t know how I or we could have managed without it. No favouritism. They treat everyone equally. They give us the chance to speak up and do.


The weekly meetings have been a lifeline for me and my husband […] He remembers very little now, but remembers the club members.


We will continue to run Carers Corner to build on the close connections that carers are making to keep positive and support each other, both at the Meeting Centre and also independently using WhatsApp groups. 

Following the introduction of exercises to help reduce falls, members are feeling confident to ask for more physical activities to help members stay fit and maintain good balance. We are really pleased to be expanding our physical activities such as walking, music and movement and games, and also providing more health information sessions which we will organise in partnership with our colleagues in the NHS. 

July 2023

Community Gardening: Summer Update

It’s one of the busiest times of the year for gardeners. As well as being active in the open air recently, we’ve also been busy behind the scenes and are happy to announce that we’ll be launching two new therapeutic garden initiatives soon. Read on for more about these – as well as the usual updates from our existing gardens.

Wellspring Settlement

The Alive Wellspring Settlement Community Gardening Group have had a busy season engaging with Avon Wildlife Trust’s Nextdoor Nature Officer Tay Aziz. Amongst other things we’ve done collaboratively, we all went on a beautiful trip to the harbourside to envision a greener future for the area surrounding SS Great Britain. 

Tay also recently hosted a fantastic community celebration event in our garden at the Settlement to thank local people for taking action for nature. Search #NextdoorNature on social media to learn more about Tay’s work, or visit this link.

Lawrence Weston Community Garden

Along with tending their flower beds and veg patches, the Lawrence Weston group have recently said an emotional farewell to Abi, who had been running the group for the last five years. Long-term volunteer Carmel has taken over facilitating sessions and is already doing a great job filling Abi’s shoes!

The group has been busy recently, planting up some beautiful terrariums and succulent dry gardens and learning about the flora and fauna of Lawrence Weston Moor.

They also enjoyed a fabulous homemade Strawberry Cream Tea and Elderflower Cordial party to celebrate Carmel’s last session as a volunteer. 

Brentry Allotment

We’ve been busy at the allotment over the last few months, with our participants creating their usual magic in the garden and some big corporate volunteer days making the place even more accessible and user-friendly.

We’ve been harvesting lots of sweet peas, cornflowers and veg this year – and have had a bumper harvest of blackcurrants which we’ll be making into jam to share soon.

We’d also like to thank everyone who’s helped make our allotment more accessible. We now have a dazzling (literally – it’s very yellow!) new wheelchair-friendly car park surface and path and three new raised beds!

Two New Ventures from Alive

We are thrilled to announce we’ll be opening a new dementia-friendly community allotment in South Bristol soon. The plot is at Talbot Road Allotments on the border of Knowle and Brislington, and we’re hoping to start sessions there in Spring ’24. We were joined by Alive staff recently to begin getting the space shipshape – and to enjoy some fresh air in a beautiful spot surrounded by trees and birdsong.

Before that, though, in September, we will launch a weekly gardening session for patients in the dementia ward at BRI Hospital, which has a beautiful courtyard garden. We will be looking for volunteers to support this central Bristol session, so please let us know if you would like to get involved.

The Hoppiness Project

Our project growing hops with Deerhurst Care Home enjoyed a trip to a brewery recently for a tour and to sample some beer.

We want to thank Michael at Wiper and True, who made us feel incredibly welcome at their state-of-the-art brewery, uber-accessible brewery and tap room in Old Market.

Michael gave us a brewery tour and then let us sample some of their beers. 

Meanwhile, the hop plant is growing well, and we look forward to harvesting the cones soon!

Visit the community gardens page on our website for more info about all our existing, green-fingered projects.

Don’t forget you can keep up with all the latest from our gardening team via their social media channels. We’re @ALIVEgardening everywhere.

Bristol Elders Groups’ Summertime Celebrations

Celebrating the important milestones of Windrush 75 and the festivities of St Paul’s Carnival, the Bristol Elders Groups have been busy.

Marking 75 years since the Empire Windrush arrived in Britain, the Elders came together to celebrate the contributions, sacrifices, and achievements of the Windrush Generation and their descendants. There was a concert with the wonderful Renewal Choir and events at Bristol Museum and a photography exhibition at Commonwealth House.

The St Paul’s Carnival followed at the weekend with the Elders enjoying a brunch hosted by the one and only Levi Roots and an amazing view of the carnival procession from the Malcolm X Centre balcony.

The sun shone down on all the joyous celebrations!

Building Mental Health Resilience: Summer Update

Catch up with Project Manager, Julie, on what has been a busy few months!

Creative Wellbeing Project with BME Elders

The Creative Wellbeing Project with the Malcolm X and Golden Agers groups has continued to be enjoyed. The aim of this collaborative project is to identify ways in which participants can connect with, express and explore their emotions through engagement with a variety of art materials to create their own individual ‘Bowls of Well-being’. These have evolved to represent their individual personalities and reflect their own unique ways to build mental health resilience.

I’ve really enjoyed the project, it’s made me think about what’s important to me and it’s been great to learn a creative skill I never thought I had!


Workshops with Mendip Vale Medical Practice

Liaison with the Social Prescribing Team at Mendip Vale Medical Practice has resulted in:

  • Facilitation of an interactive session to members of the Yatton Lifestyle and Well-being Club on building a ‘Resilience Skill Set’ on Thursday 25th May.
  • Facilitation of 2 x workshops focusing on Building Resilience and Emotional Well-being within the community. These were held at Clevedon Library, North Somerset. The first session concentrated on managing stress and frustrations and in the second session we looked at ways in which to improve low mood as well as creative ways of problem-solving.
  • These two stand alone workshops are also scheduled to be held at Southmead and Henbury Medical Practice on Tuesday 15th August, 2-4pm and Tuesday 19th September, 2-4pm, courtesy of Mendip Vale Medical Practice.

Sharing ideas in person is different and better than reading and learning on your own, the session helps to break emotions down in a way that is very understandable and feels like it could be very applicable in day to day life.


Partnerships with Age UK and Trinity Centre

The aim of our monthly ‘Creative Wellbeing’ Workshops at the Trinity Centre is to bring local residents and members from the asylum seeker and refugee community together to celebrate their different cultures and encourage new connections through the use of creative expression and engagement in a variety of art projects. The remaining two sessions are planned for Monday 14th August and Monday 4th September, 2 – 4 pm.

I didn’t realise how useful art would be in helping me not only understand how I’m feeling at the moment, but also showing me what I feel I need to do next.


Carers’ Workshops

Following the success of the Carers’ Workshops at North Somerset Dementia Meeting Centre, similar courses are being held at both Bristol and South Gloucestershire Dementia Meeting Centres. You can read about them here.

Introducing: Alive on Demand Community

Alive on Demand Community is a great new feature to stay connected in what can often be quite a lonely job. With AoD Community, you can share ideas, discuss things that have worked particularly well in your home and boast about themed days/activities with people you may otherwise not be able to.

Are you part of a Care Group?

We can add private channels to give you the chance to share ideas internally, without the rest of the community seeing. This is a great way for staff across your group to remain in contact, pick up ideas if they are new to the role and run care group-wide activity themes. 

Are you an at-home user?

Chat and connect with other AoD members all over the UK. Share your thoughts, build up networks, and bond over your favourites.

Try it out here.

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.