Dementia is a debilitating disease and In Herefordshire alone it is estimated there are around 3,200 suffers and this is predicted to rise to around 4,100 by 2025.
In the early stages, when dementia is mild, most people are able to carry out their usual activities either independently or with low level support. However, as the condition progresses, some people living with dementia require more intensive support and may move into a residential or nursing home to have their needs met.
The Leominster Meeting Centre provides support to the local community on a weekly basis. The senior Freemason in Herefordshire, Michael Holland, along with Tim Bridgland-Taylor and Nick Swan, in charge of Masonic charity work in Herefordshire, went to see how the Masons’ recent £15,000 donation to the Centre is being put to good use.
The Leominster Meeting Centre is based on an idea originally started in Holland and is there to assist those with the early onset of dementia. The centre is run as a form of social club for those with dementia, often living alone, or with a partner. Various activities are provided such as outings, picnics and social interaction during their daily visits. A fee is charged for those attending, but this does not cover all the running costs. On average 12-15 members attend daily sessions, 9am to 3pm Monday to Friday.
The Freemasons received a warm welcome from Joy Valentino the centre manager and her deputy Dawn, with an especial welcome from the members of the Meeting Centre. Whilst chatting to the members they were invited to join in with an ongoing game of Jenga, in which everyone was partaking, until Tim managed to topple the stack.
The original idea for the Leominster Meeting Centre came from Joy Valentino, as her husband suffered from dementia. A lottery grant over three years enabled her to set up and staff the centre. The Council and Worcester University also helped with funding. The £15,000 from the Freemasons will go a long way to help with the daily running costs of the site.
Michael Holland and his team were able to gain an insight into the difficulties and vagaries of this disabling illness and experience first-hand the excellent care that this grant will go towards assisting Joy and her team to continue their support for the local community.