Our CEO Isobel was recently invited to be a speaker at two Caring UK Conferences in late October. One in Norwich and one in Kettering, on the 25th and 26th, respectively.
Isobel shared that it was a very positive experience meeting some incredible staff and hearing about the inspirational activity they are doing and want to do. There was such variety in the ideas that ranged from a pub, to an allotment, to chickens and exercise!
“It was an honour to be able to speak and share stories and support attendees to deliver even more person-centred activity. It was a great atmosphere with attendees and supportive exhibitors and it was all very well organised,” shared Isobel.
After winning a prestigious ‘Dementia Care’ award at the Markel 3rd Sector Care Award in March, our dementia-friendly allotment in Brentry received the ultimate accolade for horticultural groups, a feature on the BBC’s flagship programme for the green-fingered: Gardeners’ World.
Invited to create Bristol’s first and only dementia-friendly allotment by the site representative at Charlton Road Allotments in the spring of 2020, Alive took on the overgrown and neglected plot just days before the nation was plunged into the first lockdown. Over the course of the next year-and-a-half, battling adversity, the gardening team at Alive first tamed the land and made it cultivatable, then designed the space as Bristol’s first dementia-friendly allotment. The team achieved the latter through consultation with local dementia support groups. In January of 2021, the hard work of landscaping started as Alive set about turning the space first into a building site, then into a safe, secure, user-friendly, engaging and stimulating space for the participants they were soon to welcome through the gates.
Following the opening of the allotment by Bristol mayor Marvin Rees in July 2021, the site received a lot of attention. The allotment team were soon in discussion with a researcher at Gardeners’ World who was so inspired by what they were doing, that she wanted to feature the plot on the programme and use it as an example of the difference that gardening in general and therapeutic horticulture, in particular, can make to people’s lives.
Alive welcomed the BBC to the plot in August this year, along with many of the allotment participants, all of whom were as excited as the team was. All present enjoyed a beautiful day, with many of the participants in their element, chatting about the work they do at the allotment and what the space means to them.
The allotment is a massive testament to the people who work it week in and week out and who have shaped how it looks and feels. The programme will highlight the positive impact gardening can have on the lives of those who live with dementia. It will also help to cement the work Bristol is doing to show the potential community gardening has to unite communities and improve the health and wellbeing of its residents.
“It has been quite a whirlwind year for the allotment! After running our first session in August 2021, it’s been one amazing experience after another. At the heart of what we do is the people who’ve visited the allotment, so we’re very excited that Gardeners’ World chose to make them, and not us, the focus of the programme. They have made the allotment what it is today. We can’t wait to continue the allotment’s story and hope it will benefit many more people living with dementia over the next few years,” shared Guy Manchester, Community Allotment Project Officer.
The special feature of Bristol’s only dementia-friendly allotment in Brentry aired on Gardeners’ World on BBC Two on Friday the 7th of October at 8pm and is available to watch in iPlayer. We have since received a lot of positive praise following the episode, from both the local community and nationally. Thank you for all your support!
As part of this year’s Celebrating Age Festival, Alive’s dementia-friendly allotment is running an open afternoon to reflect on how culture and climate have changed gardening over the last 70 years and to celebrate the work of the older people who’ve helped make it such a success.
Following just over a year of development, Alive ran its first dementia-friendly gardening session at their allotment in August 2021. The allotment was almost a blank canvas at the time – the hard work of landscaping and designing the bespoke space had been done, but the hard work of gardening it was yet to begin.
That the allotment has been such a success in its first year is, undoubtedly, down to the older people living locally who’ve joined week in, week out, come rain or shine. They have shaped how it looks, helped decide what is grown, planted almost every flower and vegetable, maintained everything, whatever the weather, and then have taken crops home to enjoy with family.
This year’s celebrating age festival gives us a chance to honour all their hard work. With the theme of “the changing face of Bristol in the last 70 years”, it has also given us a chance to explore other issues: we are using the open day to explore two significant ways that we consider gardening has changed since 1952 – culture and climate.
On the day, we will be inviting some of the members of the local community along who’ve encouraged us to plant less traditional vegetables. They will take the opportunity to talk to visitors about vegetables t rarely grown in the UK in 1952, many of which are now staples on Bristol’s allotments. From the Afro-Caribbean community, people will be on hand to talk about our beautiful callaloo, which is just setting seed. We also have ginger plants on site and pumpkins, which until the 1990s could only be found in specialist shops. And from the Asian community, we’ll have people on hand to talk about such things as the sprawling chayote we have clambering over our pergola and the pak choi we grow very successfully.
To reflect on how the climate has changed over the last 70 years, we’ll be planting a sustainable, wildlife-friendly dry garden. With this long, dry summer, it has hit hard how our gardening is going to have to adapt to be more water conscious. By creating a bed with drought tolerant plants such as grasses, echinacea, eryngium, sedums etc., we’ll be providing an area that won’t need watering at all – and minimal maintenance. In winter, it will offer shelter to wildlife and being perennial, it’ll help combat soil erosion and enable carbon sequestering. We’ll also focus on pollinator-friendly plants to emphasise how the landscape has changed for insects and wildlife over the last 70 years, and how they now need all the help they can get from gardeners.
We can’t wait to open our allotment gates to the public again, to challenge stereotypes of what older people in society can achieve and to reflect on changes in gardening over the last 70 years.
The CAF allotment session is running at Charlton Road Allotments, BS10 6JZ on Friday 7th October 1.30 to 3.30.
To commemorate World Alzheimer’s Day and this year’s theme of ‘Know Dementia’ and the focus on post-diagnosis support, we wanted to highlight the work of our Dementia Meeting Centres, set up across Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire, that are embodying this theme through their sessions.
The concept for Meeting Centres was developed in the Netherlands, where it has been successfully running for the past 10 years and in the UK for the past 3 years. We are so proud of the positive work our Meeting Centres are doing for those with dementia, as well as their care partners in their respective local community.
Highlights from our Bristol Meeting Centre
In honour of World Alzheimer’s Day, Bristol Meeting Centre’s themes this month have been ‘living healthy and active lives’ and ‘contributing to our community’. Members and care partners have been helping to shape the practice and assisting staff to plan and deliver the sessions at the Meeting Centre.
The activities have been planned to fit around the themes and have included ‘getting out and about’, with visits to Aerospace Bristol to see The Concorde Hangar, where some of the members have worked, and gentle strolls around the garden and beautiful grounds at Westbury Fields, where the Meeting Centre sessions are held.
There has been a strong focus on keeping minds active and members have recently enjoyed painting, plaque-making and many other activities that support cognition and wellbeing.
To support the local community, the Meeting Centre provided food for the St Monica Trust Harvest Festival and also received some lovely fresh produce grown at our Alive Dementia-friendly Allotment. Any surplus has been donated to Bristol Food Banks.
The impact of the sessions at Bristol Meeting Centre has been a noticeably positive one, in just a few months. This is reflected in the members telling staff that they want to contribute to their communities for as long as possible. Enjoying activities where there are opportunities to help others has improved their self-esteem and provided a positive self-image.
Highlights from our North Somerset Meeting Centre in Nailsea
Our 3 North Somerset Meeting Centres have been contributing towards improving the lives of their members in a similarly positive manner, by helping bring a renewed sense of meaning post-diagnosis.
We would like to highlight a lovely positive story from one of our North Somerset Meeting Centres, Nailsea Meeting Centre, showcasing the huge impact the Meeting Centre has made on the lives of a member and her care partner, following her dementia diagnosis.
The member and her care partner husband began attending the Meeting Centre when it opened in March of 2022 and have been attending regular sessions twice a week, ever since.
J, the member’s care partner, was facing a difficult crossroads, prior to them joining the Meeting Centre. J was initially faced with the possibility of having to put his wife into a residential care home and the stress of her dementia diagnosis, the difficulties faced by covid and being her sole carer and family member was taking its toll on him and leaving him feeling quite alone.
In a search for answers and support, J and his wife joined the Meeting Centre and have received that, and more.
Through the support given to him both formally and informally within the Meeting Centre, he is no longer considering that the need for residential care for his wife, is just round the corner. He feels that the informed support he receives from the trained staff within the Meeting Centre and the peer support he receives through talking with other carers whilst staff and volunteers engage his loved one, has had a significant impact on improving their lives.
These sessions provide both of them with 10 hours a week of meaningful activity and support. Through encouragement from the Meeting Centre team and talking to a fellow carer, he received tips on how his wife and him could go on holiday, an avenue that he felt was closed to them due impact of dementia on their lives. They then travelled to Spain and had an amazing time and are planning on going again next year.
The lovely couple have felt a renewed sense of regaining their old life. They are back enjoying activities they used to pre-diagnosis, such as meals out, going to shows and visiting the cinema, to name a few. In order to ensure they are able to enjoy these activities without worry, the Meeting Centre team suggested that the lady member wears a sunflower lanyard with a help card, which helps identify that she is living with an invisible disability. This suggestion has helped them to feel confident to begin enjoying life again by engaging in the activities they used to enjoy together before diagnosis.
J shared that, the 5 hours that they attend the Meeting Centre means that he “doesn’t have to do the ‘heavy lifting’ of being the carer alone”, and this has made such a profound impact on his life as a carer.
South Gloucestershire Meeting Centre
We are pleased to announce that we have opened our South Gloucestershire Meeting Centre in Bradley Stoke this September. The Meeting Centre is welcoming new members. To book a taster session, please contact the team via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or ring them on 07377 197 893.
Brian, a care home resident at Innisfree Residential Home in Weston-Super-Mare, wrote into the Wishing Washing Line™ West last month with a simple wish, to have a romantic meal with his wife Elsie. Having an intimate, romantic meal with his wife is not a luxury that Brian has been able to enjoy in quite some time, as he lives in the home and his wife does not. However, his wish was received and granted by the project on his and his wife, Elsie’s, 65th wedding anniversary, when an intimate three-course meal was cooked for the lovely pair by a volunteer chef. “Thank you ever so much,” says Brian, through tears of joy, when Nick and Project Manager Maya explain that Brian and Elsie are about to be served a meal, specially prepared for them.
Brian’s wish was displayed online and enthusiastically picked up by a member of the public, a chef named Nick Cornish who hails from Bristol and has over 10 years of cheffing experience in various different settings. The home agreed to have Nick come across to prepare a meal for the couple and Nick checked on both Brian and Elsie’s preferences with the home and came up with a delicious three-course menu. The menu consisted of a starter of leek and potato soup with sourdough croutons, an individual main course of beef lasagne for Brian and a soy mince lasagne for Elsie, served with green beans and roasted carrots, and a delectable dessert of homemade dark chocolate tart served with crème fraiche. The entire meal was beautifully and professionally presented and left the lucky couple, as well as staff at the home, in awe. Nick also decorated Brian and Elsie’s ‘private dining room’ with lovely flowers, LED tea lights and played some 50s love songs through a portable speaker, to enhance their dining experience.
When asked if Brian enjoyed the meal, he nodded and gestured smilingly towards his plate, “Well it’s all finished isn’t it?”
The day after the meal, the home’s Deputy Manager, Zoe, got in touch with the Wishing Washing Line™ team to say that “he is still absolutely chuffed and is either smiling from ear to ear or is crying happy tears!”
Brian and Elsie’s love story is out of a storybook. Having met when they were just 10 years old in Liverpool, where they lived down the street from one another and crossed each other’s paths on their way to school every morning, to becoming friends and eventually getting married, Brian says the secret to their 65 long years is to “give in to each other and just love one another.”
The Wishing Washing Line™ West project is looking for care homes in Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire who have residents who might want to participate in this lovely wish-granting project. “We just want to lend a helping hand to care staff and help bring smiles to the faces of residents, by encouraging the community to engage meaningfully with older people living in care homes in their local area,” says Project Manager Maya Tsering Bhalla, on the motivation behind the project.
If you are interested in finding out more, please contact email@example.com or call the team on 07955 374 632, or follow the Wishing Washing Line™ West’s social media pages @wwlwest across Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.
Alive ran the first session at a new community garden last week in Worle, Somerset. We’ve been consulting with David Skidmore, a member of the local community, about it for over a year now and it’s lovely to see it finally up and running and delivering dementia-friendly gardening sessions styled as “Muriel’s Gardening Club at Stanley’s Garden”.
Here are some lovely photos from the day.
To find out more, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Keep the weekend of 17th – 18th Sept free because, once again, Alive’s Community Gardens are taking part in this year’s Get Growing Trail, organised by Bristol Food Network, the organisation behind the city’s successful bid to become a Gold Sustainable Food City in 2020.
The Get Growing Trail is an annual celebration of some of Bristol’s vibrant, productive (and often secret) fruit and veg gardens. As part of the trail, the general public is invited to explore a host of green spaces, including community allotments, gardens and orchards, smallholdings and mini-plots, city farms and productive parks.
Alive has been part of the Get Growing Trail for a few years now, but this is the first time two of our green spaces will be opening their doors on the same weekend! These are our dementia-friendly allotment in Brentry and our newest endeavour, our inclusive community garden at the Wellspring Settlement in Barton Hill.
The Wellspring Settlement garden is a coproduction with the Settlement itself and only launched in March this year, so it’ll be our first opportunity to showcase all the hard work that the local community and visitors to the settlement have achieved in a really short space of time. In a relatively short space of time, what was once an urban landscape has been transformed into a colourful abundance of flowers, fruit and veg. There will be an opportunity to meet some of the people who’ve helped effect the change there and find out what the garden means to them. We’ll also be inviting people to make origami seed packets to take home filled with seeds for flowers and veg!
Our award-winning dementia-friendly allotment in Brentry took part in last year’s GGT trail, when we made many new friends on the day. We’re looking forward to welcoming back visitors to show them how much hard work our amazing participants have put into the area over the year, and to challenge stereoptypes as to what people living with dementia are capable off. It’ll also be a unique opportunity to visit a usually private space and hear more about the work the charity does running therapeutic horticulture sessions across the region. We will probably also take the opportunity to bend your ears about our passion for community-growing projects!
“Clevedon Meeting Centre is the highlight of our week”
“It’s worth every penny.”
Members from Clevedon Christ Church Meeting Centre shared that they would like to try food from around the world. So we visited China on the hottest day of the year with food, chopsticks, speaking and singing in mandarin and creating Chinese lanterns. The following week, we visited India – we created mandalas on tables using large buttons that had been donated and Anna dressed herself up in a Sari. We then visited France and one of our lovely volunteer’s Christine, is French (ooh la la!) and she helped organise some French-themed activities. We spoke in French, sang in French, played pétanque and created art inspired by Matisse. Christine also made a delicious tarte au tatin, which tasted fantastique. We continue our Armchair travels.. who knows where we will travel to next!
Portishead Dementia Meeting Centre members and Clevedon Dementia Meeting Centre members welcomed artists Jasmine and Mona earlier this week. Together, they made Mantras which are sayings which we can say to inspire, encourage and bring us joy.
The members took home their individual Mantras but not before they were photographed by Jasmine & Mona. They are going to create a screen print of these pieces of artwork and then the images will go into a book. There will also be a tour throughout North Somerset, so if you live in the area, the artwork will be displayed in a venue near you! Pop along and have a look at the artwork created by younger and older people that have collaborated with artists on this wonderful project.
These photos are of the Portishead Dementia Meeting Centre members with their finished masterpieces.
The sun is shining, and it feels like summer is finally well and truly with us. I hope you are able to enjoy some of this good weather.
At Alive, we are finally able to be out and about so much more, which is so encouraging, and we are loving spending time with so many incredible people face to face. In our Care Homes sessions, it’s wonderful to be able to visit homes again in-person, so if you would like a session, please book us in! Our members have been telling us what a difference attending the Meeting Centres has been making to their lives, which is very humbling and inspiring to see. We are looking forward to opening our third centre in South Gloucestershire soon. Our Tea and Tech sessions with WERN are also supporting a large number of older people to not only get to grips with tech, but to enjoy social engagement too (and lots of cake!).
I finally caught a train and went to London to speak at the NAPA conference, which was held on June 15th. Being face-to-face with people again and witnessing such creativity and commitment in our sector was just incredible. It was nerve wracking standing in front of an audience and giving a talk rather than being able to hide behind my computer, but so rewarding to hear of the work that has been happening within homes. The Care Sector has worked so hard over the last couple of years, it was encouraging to hear of everyone’s commitment and passion to serve our older people.
Our team has grown this year and we are just as passionate as ever about delivering high quality engagement and lighting up life. If you would like to join any of our projects, please do get in touch. We’d love to hear from you!
I hope you all have a joyful summer, full of light and life.
Tea And Tech has been roving around North Somerset this year, setting up in village halls and running drop-in sessions for older people to help them with their tech. Over a cup of tea, people have been able to ask questions about how to use their smart phone, what to do with their tablet and how to open an account with the council.
Staff and local volunteers have provided patient assistance, advice and guidance to help people stay well informed, connected and in control of their lives using modern computer technology. At 11 different locations we have had over 200 visits, enjoyed conversations over tea and cakes, caught up with friends and made new connections and handed out our bespoke “How To” guides, which are also available on our website: Access our resource library – Alive Activities
Working alongside the West Of England Rural Network (WERN), we will be running new sessions in Abbots Leigh and Locking over the summer, as well as the ongoing ones in places such as Portishead, Banwell and Long Ashton. If you want to know about the sessions, please contact Alive on email@example.com or phone us on 0117 377 4756.